About 70 private schools in Thailand have closed down during the past nine months, due to the impacts of COVID-19,and about 100 more are expected to follow suit, including 10 which have already notified the Office of the Private Education Promotion Commission about their decision to close.
Education Minister Kanokwan Wilawan said that that she is fully aware of the problem and will consult Pornsak Rattana, secretary-general of the Office of Private Education Promotion Commission, about how to address the problem.
Meanwhile, Dr. Supaset Khanakul, president of the Association of Private Education Promotion and Coordination Committee, pointed out that, since the opening of the new semester, many private schools have been unable to collect school fees from parents, totalling about one billion baht, leading to cash flow problems.
Moreover, he said that a number of students had left their schools before their reopening for the second semester, eitherbecause their parents cannot afford the fees or because theyhave moved.
Although the schools may be able to collect school fees from some parents, they still face cash flow problems because they will have to pay their teachers, many of whom have voluntarily agreed to accept only half of their salaries to ease the financial burden on the schools and to save their jobs.
Dr. Supaset said the association had that proposed the Ministry of Education provides free rapid antigen test kits to schools, so that teachers and students can be tested before the start of the second semester and normal on-site learning.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jate Prapamontripong, president of the board of the Prapamontree chain of schools, pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic is not the only problem facing most private schools, adding that Thailand’s low birth rate in the past 5-10 years has contributed to fewer students enrolling.
Although private schools have eased the financial burden onthe state, estimated at about six billion baht annually, he complained that many people have a misconception about private schools, accusing them of being business-orientated and focussed solely on making profits.