Information by Country
The majority of the population has access to basic services, with relatively high immunization coverage, leading to reduced infant and under-five mortality rates. There is growing concern, however, about increasing numbers of children who are at risk or in need of special protection, such as those engaged in prostitution or employed as child labourers. Mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS and high HIV prevalence rates among pregnant women are also issues of concern.
The latest education information generated through Thailand’s Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey yields that primary school net attendance ratios in 2005/6 were 85.1 per cent for boys and 85.7 per cent for girls. However, if we define 7-12 year olds as primary school aged children, the ratios would rise to 94.2 per cent for boys and 94.1 per cent for girls.
Given these figures, gender disparity is not perceived as a huge challenge in Thailand, but when it comes to quality issues and opportunities for girls and women to hold leadership positions in education, serious discrimination persists. Textbooks were last reviewed on gender aspects in 1993, which calls for further review.
Girls’ Education Initiative
UNGEI was never formally launched in Thailand, but activities to achieve gender equality have been ongoing. Gender equality in access to and quality and achievements in basic education were promoted as a component of the child friendly school (CFS) initiative through Gender Sensitivity.
At the national level, the main partners are: i) Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC), Ministry of Education, ii) Bureau of Local Education Administration (BLEA), iii) Department of Local Administration, Ministry of Interior, iv) Department of Education (DE, BMA), Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and v) UNESCO. The CFS initiative is led by OBEC.
At provincial and sub-provincial levels, the following agencies are responsible for basic education end gender equality: i) Education Service Area Offices, OBEC, ii) BLEA, responsible for schools under provincial municipalities and iii) DE-BMA, responsible for schools under Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.
At community level, partners include schools, students and their families.
Barriers to Girls’ Education
- Discrimination against girls within the most marginalised groups, such as poor, ethnic minorities, non-registered children, migrants, affected by HIV/AIDS, living with disabilities, in remote areas or in violent environments is widespread. These girls are doubly discriminated and less likely to attend any form of schooling.
- Low rates of birth registration
- Issues of language
- Poverty and economic status of the family
- Limited availability of and long distance to schools
UNGEI in Action
The Child-Friendly School initiative, launched in 1998, aims to enhance access to quality basic education for all, especially for the at-risk and/or excluded children. Gender equality is promoted as a component of the CFS initiative, namely through Gender Sensitivity.
- Training of Trainers was provided by the Office of the Basic Education Commission for Education Service Area Office staff, who in turn train school staff.
- UNICEF works on awareness raising and advocacy for administrators and educators to become more gender sensitive and provide transparent equal opportunities for girls and boys, focusing on girls within the most marginalized groups.
- The Child-Friendly School initiative promotes inclusive education, child rights, community involvement, life skills, gender, school management information systems (SMIS) and tracking systems, water, environment and sanitation and child protection systems.
- Advocacy for the enforcement of the new ‘EFA’ policy
- Support to alternative and non-formal education, such as non-formal education for migrant children, as well as bilingual and multi-grade education.
UNGEI within other National and International Frameworks
Thailand’s United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) gives importance to ‘access to quality social services and protection’, which emphasizes increased access to and utilization of quality education, especially for vulnerable groups and people in underserved areas, as well as enhanced capacities within national and local government, civil society and communities and policies for increased access to high-quality, child friendly basic education (formal and non-formal).