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MAIL OPINION  By Shana Kongmun


Money and schools

I recently read a report that came out of the United States that shows higher spending on schools results in more high school graduates and even more university graduates. This goes hand in hand with the government’s recent decision to not merge small rural schools after all.
The report showed that U.S. states that spent the most on students in public schools had a higher than average high school graduation rate, and even more tellingly, more than 30% were likely to have a bachelor’s degree, over the national average of 28% and much higher than that of states with the lowest spending which had below average rates of adults with bachelor’s degrees.
It is no surprise that the wealthier states could afford more money for their students since much of education funding in the U.S. comes from property taxes A majority of the top-spending states are in the top 15 in fourth- and eighth-grade math and reading proficiency exams. And while spending is not a guarantee of success as not all of the high spending states did well in test scores, they did have the higher than average graduation rates which says quite a bit in my opinion.
So, how does this apply to Thailand, a centrally run economy whose schools receive their funding from the central government in Bangkok with only a portion of the funding coming locally? Well, it goes to show that perhaps instead of willy nilly closing schools based on number of students they should focus on how to get a good education to the broadest spectrum. It is not just in the North that rural students suffer with poor schools, overworked and understaffed teachers; it’s a fact everywhere in the nation. A child in a remote community has little chance for an excellent education; this is why those who can afford it send their kids to schools in bigger cities.
Many organizations in Chiang Mai hold fundraisers to purchase basics like tables and chairs, books and pencils. These basics are just the building blocks of a good education. Good teachers need to be trained and the spirit of providing a quality education instilled. Sending newly graduated teachers who have received government scholarships to the back of beyond to repay their debts does not ensure a good education for rural students.
The government is currently planning a massive bond issue to fund infrastructure development in the country. Highway improvements, railway repairs and a high speed rail line out of the North. All commendable and necessary things if the country is to continue to prosper. However, an investment in the future of this nation, its children, is of vital importance if the country is to compete on the world level as it hopes to. Not just English needs to be improved but all subjects, there is a vast resource of untapped talent lying out there in the mountains, islands, rubber plantations and rice fields. It’s time they were given the opportunity to achieve that potential.

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Money and schools