Paltry budget for poor kids fund blasted
The Senate has cried foul over an unreasonable cut in the Equitable Education Fund (EEF), which is responsible for improving access to basic education for about 4 million children.
Despite the fund's target budget of 25 billion baht per year, only 5 billion baht was requested and 3 billion granted for fiscal year 2020, said Senator Chaloemchai Bunyaliphan.
He was speaking during Tuesday's review by the Senate of the EEF's 2018 annual report.
"For the target 4 million poor students, the target 25 billion baht budget translated into financial assistance of only 600 baht per pupil per month," he said.
"I couldn't believe the requested 5 billion baht budget was slashed to 3 billion. Who made the decision on the cut?
"Designed according to input, analyses and findings from foreign studies, the EEF is there to ensure equal education opportunities to all children," Dr Chalermchai said.
"Every 1 baht invested in this scheme will yield 7 baht in return," he said, adding that better access to education will help decrease the burden on the government's welfare fund as these children will grow up to be adults who can support themselves.
Senator Ampol Jindawattana described the EEF as a key mechanism in the country's education reform.
"Disparity in educational opportunities is a very important issue. And the fund shouldn't start out by struggling to cope with a budget constraint. The government should have treated the fund more importantly," he said.
The EEF was conceived as part the government's plan to eradicate inequality in access to quality education in Thailand within 10 years, according to Supakorn Buasai, EEF manager.