Govt gives nod to bill to help poor students

Govt gives nod to bill to help poor students

The cabinet has approved a draft bill which will provide government funds for equal access to education for poor students through the award of scholarships and loans.

The cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday approved a request submitted by the Independent Committee for Education Reform (Icer) to allocate funds to support fair access to education nationwide, government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.

The draft bill will be forwarded to the National Legislative Assembly for deliberation.

The government will inject a total of one billion baht into the fund in the first year, but other channels will also be utilised later on, such as pulling revenue from the government's lottery scheme.

The government has also proposed tax cuts for members of the public who wish to make donations to the scheme.

The framework for the management of the funds opens various options for those who need subsidies for education, as applicants can borrow, loan or even obtain funds for free depending on the context of each case, said Lt Gen Sansern, adding that Icer had originally asked for a 5% subsidy in funding each year but the cabinet could not yet approve this due to budgetary constraints.

"The cabinet could not guarantee the 5% addition at this time, and therefore we have proposed an annual revision on this matter so that we can continue to create plans which will support the initiative of providing equal access to education," Lt Gen Sansern said.

"Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin said during the meeting the allocation of these funds is in accordance with the government's long-term goal to provide equal access to education," he added.

"The premier also said at the meeting the funding programme must be very clear, and must not be mixed with the Student Loan Programme. People also asked whether are they still eligible to apply for the Student Loan Programme of they have been given subsidies under the new funds system, and the answer is yes," he said.

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