The Equitable Education Fund (EEF) has suggested the government invest in human capital to improve the living conditions of students from low-income families and reduce education inequality.
The EEF held an annual Equity Forum at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre recently to discuss the importance of human capital investment in addressing inequality in education.
EEF managing director Kraiyos Patrawart presented an annual report on education inequality, which indicated Thailand has not fully recovered from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The inflation problem has also worsened education inequality, particularly living costs associated with education, including travel and food.
Mr Kraiyos also expressed concern Thailand might find itself in a K-shaped recovery where the rich become richer and the poor become poorer.
He said children from well-resourced families will have more chance to recover from learning losses, whereas children from vulnerable families or those out of the education system face being categorised as a lost generation.
Mr Kraiyos said human capital development must change to avoid children slipping out of the education system.
He also mentioned the kingdom's birth rate is falling due to decreased fertility.
Mr Kraiyos spoke on Thailand's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 13th national economic and society development plan, which will be accomplished in 5-7 years.
He said capital human investment is the key to increasing incomes by 40% per person by 2036. The increase in human capital will raise the nation's revenues from tax collection and maintain the economy's stability.
An assessment from Unesco showed if Thailand can reduce inequality in education, the economy will grow by 3%.
In the academic year 2023, Thailand has around 1.8 million children from poor families. The EEF has provided education funds to around 1.24 million poor and extremely poor students. The number rose from 994,428 poor students in 2020.
Despite a free tuition policy, many children from extremely poor families cannot attend school due to financial burdens.
Overall incomes of low-income families have fallen to 1,039 baht per month or an average of 34 baht a day this year, lower than the international poverty line at US$2.15 or around 80 baht a day, he said.
Weerachart Kilenthong, director of the Research Institute for Policy Evaluation and Design (Riped), suggested focusing on low-readiness children as they need assistance.