Srettha Thavisin, CEO of Sansiri PLC, has revealed that Sansiri’s business ethos is premised on its belief in social responsibility in a world where big people help small ones.
The company is on a mission to reduce social inequity and promote social equity, with the intent to help children sustainably. The company was an official partner with UNICEF Thailand and a signatory for the “UNICEF-Sansiri Memorandum of Understanding” for improving the quality of life of children over the past 10 years.
Both Unicef and Sansiri engaged in projects for protecting and supporting children’s rights and developing their quality of life. These 17 projects include “IODINE PLEASE”, which successfully tackled iodine deficiency in children, one of the national problems for 50 years; and “Best Start”, which focused on the first six years of childhood as the golden years for children. “Best Start” later gave rise to the “Good Space” project that aimed to provide a safe space for children living in Sansiri’s construction areas. Other projects focused on the development of quality of life, awareness of young people's rights in Thailand (in such areas as health, education and sport) and providing support to children in Thailand and overseas.
100 million baht
This year, Sansiri has embarked on a mission to support the Equitable Education Fund (EEF), established by the Independent Committee for Education Reform. When it comes to children’s rights, Sansiri shares the same vision and goal as the EEF: to create equity in education. Sansiri’s latest mission is titled “Zero Dropout: All Children Go to School”. The huge project aims to bring sustainability to the development of the quality of Thai education over three years.
Furthermore, 2022 will see Sansiri launch corporate bonds, worth 100 million baht, for the first time in Asia, to raise funds for the “Zero Dropout” project. The project will be piloted in Ratchaburi province where the presence of 10,000 school dropouts necessitates funds of at least 100 million baht.
The goal of “Zero Dropout: All Children Go to School” is to create a three-year action plan to develop the quality of the Thai education system in a sustainable manner. The project aims to bring sustainable development to all aspects of education, including equal access to education and quality of education. The project will work to ensure that school-age children (grades one to nine) remain in compulsory education and that 100 percent of children reaching school age must be ready to start first grade.
The project will kick off in 2022 and run in Suan Phueng, Chom Bueng and Ban Kha districts of Ratchaburi. In 2023, the project will expand to four more districts, with three further districts added in 2024, helping children in early childhood and 11,200 school dropouts. Aside from cutting the number of out-of-school children down to zero, the project aims to provide financial support to prepare preschool-age kids for school (4,000 baht per person). In the fourth year, a local state educational body in Ratchaburi will take responsibility for the project.
To guarantee transparency, the project can be inspected through an escrow account with Siam Commercial Bank named “Sansiri PLC”. Through this account, Sansiri will provide financial support to EEF. EEF will come up with an annual action plan and withdraw funds from the account for use in the Zero Dropout project no more than three times per year.
“Sansiri would like to inspire everyone to take part in reforming Thailand with “Zero Dropout: All Children Go to School”. The corporate bond sale has a maximum worth of 100 million baht and aims to raise capital in support of this project. We also want to make educational history with a first in Asia. The issuance of our corporate bonds aims to raise funds for developing the educational system of Thailand. The project is an investment with two main benefits: not only will the investors get a return on their investment, but they also will be investing in the future of children so that they can go to school, along the way helping to lay a key foundation for driving Thailand forward,” said Srettha.
Dr Kraiyos Patrawart, managing director of the Equitable Education Fund (EEF), said that, “EEF is an effective support mechanism that forges cooperation between different sectors to take part in reducing inequity in education in a sustainable manner. The goal is to provide Thais with equitable opportunities to access quality education and develop themselves according to their potential so that they can break up the vicious cycle of poverty in a generation. EEF provides support to targeted students from low-income families within the lowest 15 percent of the population. EEF has developed innovations that can act as levers and a catalyst for systematic change, using data, research and other mechanisms of cooperation from different departments and sectors as crucial tools for bringing about change in a sustainable manner on both provincial and national levels.”
“Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Thailand was held back by inequity in education. The inequities arise as a result of health and household economic factors, difficult living conditions in remote, rural areas, and other factors directly linked to social deprivation faced by young people. Inequitable education was exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic by rising unemployment and the downward spiral of household incomes caused by shutdowns and temporary or permanent job losses. There’s been a lack of access to electricity, internet connections and devices necessary for continuous and quality online learning. These factors have combined to increase the risk of children and teenagers dropping out of school.”
According to a database from the EEF, 1.9 million students nationwide are at risk of dropping out of school, with household economic health being one of the main factors. The poorest students are from families with an average decline in monthly income per household from the pre-pandemic level of 1,289 baht to 1,094 baht last year. This shows an upward trend in the number of poor and poorest students every semester that increased from 994,428 in 2020 to 1,244,591 students in the first semester of 2021.
The major reasons for children opting out of school range from the need to work to support family, lack of necessities for everyday living and education equipment, lack of funds to cover transportation costs, inadequate funds to cover food costs, and remote rural locationd of their home far away from school.
It has been found that children and youths from poor and poorest families mostly opt-out of school before getting to university and senior high school (or the equivalent). Up to 94.7 percent of poor and poorest students cannot get to university. EEF and Sansiri have high hopes of changing the future of children and the future of the country for the better.
“EEF is delighted that Sansiri places importance on equitable education and wants to be part of the effort to resolve inequity in education with financial support to drive projects run by EEF in conjunction with state, local and private agencies in Ratchaburi. These projects provide direct support to measures directly affecting children, youth and schools and schemes to raise awareness of inequity in education. The projects also offer guidelines for solving inequity in education in a sustainable fashion with area-based education (ABE).
“Zero Dropout represents an innovation in cooperation that will result in systematic effects and sustainable solutions,” adds Dr Kraiyos. “This project will be a national model that can be scaled up and expanded in the future. Most importantly, there’s a need to create a channel where everyone can come together to help reform the Thai education system so that the nation’s youths have equal access. Ratchaburi province has prior experience in education reform to bring an end to inequity in education together with EEF. The province has policies that place heavy emphasis on the issue, school models and alternative education units, personnel, volunteers that can deliver and expand results immediately.”
“The 100 million baht in capital raised from the bond sale may not be enough to help all children in the country, but it will inspire,” says Srettha. “We hope that by taking action, we can bring about change. The project should create a ripple effect on public, private and other sectors so that they come together to lend a helping hand. When that day comes, achieving a zero dropout rate is not too distant a future.”
Make history by reforming Thai education to achieve zero out-of-school. For more information, please visit https://blog.sansiri.com/zero-dropout-main/ or Tel: 1685.