Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has given the green light to a proposal to bring in private, non-profit entities to manage some state-run schools under a pilot project starting next year, the Office of the National Education Council (Onec) said.
"The premier agreed with [the plan] to allow the private sector to handle education," said Onec secretary-general Chaiyapruek Serirak, adding that the private operators, however, must still follow the ministry's nationwide standards.
The proposal was raised in a meeting of the reform steering committee in preparation for the Thailand 4.0 policy, chaired by Gen Prayut.
The Office of the Public Sector Development Commission (OPDC) presented the plan, which is part of efforts to improve the management of schools, Mr Chaiyapruek said.
Under the proposal, the OPDC will work with the Education Ministry and the private sector to adopt a public school model in order to manage state-run schools in a more flexible and effective manner, he said.
A private operator would be allowed to run a school for five years with appraisals of its work being conducted on a regular basis, Mr Chaiyapruek said. These private operators, he said, must not be profit-seeking entities.
He also insisted that the private operators must be responsible for students' learning achievements, creating student innovations and adjusting to reflect the local identity.
The schools participating in the scheme would receive an allocated budget and students will be able to study there without education fees or other expenses, Mr Chaiyapruek said.
These schools will be supervised by a policy committee, which will include provincial education officials and chiefs of educational service area offices, he said.
The emphasis will not be on major schools such as provincial ones, he said. A total of 77 pilot schools could come under the scheme in the first semester of next year.
Teachers of the schools joining the pilot project will be able to choose whether they wish to remain civil servants or become school employees.