The shortcomings of Thailand’s education system have again been exposed by international education rankings, with Thai students scoring well below global averages in the core subjects of mathematics, science and literacy. The country has its own decades-long top-down, centralised approaches to education to blame for such poor rankings. Thailand’s education indeed needs structural reform.
Despite having one of the world’s highest percentages of national expenditure, Thailand’s abysmal system is massively outperformed by that of one of its closest competitors for foreign direct investmentVietnam, whose students are years ahead of Thailand’s.
Earlier this month, reports by the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s 2015 Programme for International Student Assessments (Pisa) ranked Singaporean students highest. Singapore was joined in the TIMSS high rankings by other East Asian economies, including South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, which all performed admirably. The Top 10 of the PISA rankings consisted of seven Asian economies: Singapore, Japan, Taipei, Macao, Vietnam, Hong Kong and China.