Scheme hailed over attendance
The government's Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme has enabled 98% of its poor students to concentrate on classroom learning, boosting equal access to education.
The CCT, which is being run under the Equitable Education Fund, aims to ensure underprivileged children are not left out of the national educational system, but it is also improving their attendance.
"Only 2% of the grantees failed to meet the 80% class attendance requirement," said Sub Lt Thanu Wongchinda, assistant secretary-general at the Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec).
In the current academic year, nearly 700,000 needy students in 27,512 elementary and lower secondary schools have been granted the financial support on condition they attend class regularly.
Each of them receives 3,000 baht a semester for living and travel costs.
Those who failed to meet the conditions will get further help, after officials probe factors other than money that keep them out of school.
"We won't turn a blind eye to this problem," Sub Lt Thanu insisted.
Kraiyot Phatthrawat, manager of the Equitable Education Fund, said many children suffer not only from poverty but also health problems.
In the first semester of this academic year, teachers who visited families of students found that more than 42,000 children were living with some form of physical disability, he said.
All have been helped under the CCT.
The government plans to expand financial aid to more children next academic year, including those at the kindergarten level.
Mr Kraiyot praised the CCT as an "innovation" that is reducing social disparity.
"The CCT is following in the footsteps of this year's Nobel laureates in economics," he said.
Three American economists won the prize in October for their work on new approaches to fighting global poverty.