Poverty makes elderly care 'difficult'
Agencies concerned over ageing society
Experts have raised concerns over the number of young people entering the workforce who will have to support the elderly, but who have poor education and live in poverty.
Up to 42% of young people in this group received a poor education, a major factor leading to their living in penury.
The numbers are based on data collected between 2005 and 2016 to prepare the Child Multidimensional Poverty Index, or "Child MPI", which was jointly released yesterday by the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (Unicef).
The Child MPI not only looks at money, but also focuses on education, child welfare, living standards and health.
Though some of its findings shows a big drop in child poverty between 2005 and 2016, the government should not be complacent as a new challenge is around the corner, it said.
Thailand has entered the status of "ageing society", so young people are considered a "national treasure" who need to be cared for so they will be a core in driving the country in the future, said Monthip Samphanthawong, chief of NESDC's database and social condition development.
In 2021, one in five people will be aged 60 or over. "Children are likely to work harder than their parents because Thailand will face a manpower scarcity," she said.
NESDC secretary-general Thosaporn Sirisamphand said Thai youngsters need a better education to take them out of poverty.
Children aged three or younger had few books to read while many of those who are older do not go to school, he said, citing figures from the Child MPI.
Better education does not simply mean schooling, but it should come with high quality teaching and learning, said Unicef social policy analyst Tomoo Okubo.
The government must play a key role in helping children achieve these goals to make sure they can stand on their own feet, he said.
According to the Child MPI, children in the southern province of Satun experienced inadequate education at a much higher rate, compared with those in many other provinces.
Overall child poverty rates were highest in the Northeast, the report said.
Thailand is among the first countries in the world to develop the Child Multidimensional Poverty Index with help from Oxford University.
"It presents reliable data to identify children who are most vulnerable," Unicef representative for Thailand Thomas Davin said.