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16 May 2014
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TDRI shakes hand with World Bank and proposes budget allocation reform – the Funding Formula – to improve small school quality

Thailand Development Research Institute

Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) and the World Bank collaboratively presented the “Funding Formula” as a new way to manage resources to raise the quality of the Thai educational system.
The new formula is expected to improve expenditure performance, reduce educational inequality and assist small schools and impoverished students.

In a seminar workshop titled “Educational Resources Management for the Better Educational Quality,” held by the Ministry of Education, TDRI, the World Bank and the Quality Learning Foundation on April 30, 2014, Dr. Somkiat Tangkitvanich, President of TDRI, stated that despite the fact that government budget allocated to improve education has been continually increased, we still observe the lack in the quality and the inequality of access to good education in the country. Thailand needs to adopt a new approach for education budget allocation.

It is clear that the current approach in allocating education budget does not translate to an improvement in our Thai school quality. Even with lower academic performances of the students and the schools’ inability to retain students,  directors and teachers in some schools are allocated the same, if not higher,  amount of funding compared to some other schools which are in need of resources. Some of these schools with under supplies of resources, for instance, cannot afford to select their own teachers or have received funding lower than the actual costs they would have to bear to manage quality education. This is especially the case for numerous small schools which are provided with an inadequate number of teachers to cover a long list of classes that need to be taught to students.

Underprivileged students have been financially supported similarly to well-to-do students. For better quality in education, schools located in poor areas are in need of more funding.

Dr. Somkiat also said that the Funding Formula proposed by the World Bank’s researchers will be an important tool for the financial reform to improve education. The formula calculates the actual fund for each student which reflects the cost of quality education management by taking into account the student’s academic performance, socioeconomic background and the school environment such as the size of the school.

With this formula, needy students will be allocated more financial supports. Small schools in remote areas will receive more funds per head than schools in town. This is so that students of all socioeconomic background will have equal opportunity and access to quality education.

Nevertheless, due to limited budget, the government sector may not have the capacity to increase funding for every small school. As a result, the government sector should set up a management system of small schools by grouping the schools and supporting them with customized policy suitable for each school grouping – instead of merging every single small school and implement a generalized policy.

The groups of small schools in remote areas should not be merged because the students in the area will then be restricted to education access. These schools should be provided with more resources. Each group of small schools located close to one another may form a collaborating network similar to the Kangjan Model, implemented in Loei, in which a group of four small schools collaborate and share teaching resources, offering classes for two different grade levels at each of the school and thus alleviating teacher shortage.

In addition to the financial system for education, the educational reform also needs to be implemented in other aspects such as pre-school education quality development, academic personnel management system – from teacher selection to training in education science and allocation – which can all be very challenging.

But one thing is for sure – Thailand still lacks specialists in education research to drive education reform. TDRI now has a vision to set up the “Quality Learning Research Institute” to conduct systematic researches and to consistently present ways to reform education for the country.