Types of School

Find out about the different types of Thai school, with details on international and private schools as well as government and higher education institutes...

Private and international schools

The facilities and quality of teaching in international schools are usually of a very high standard and the class sizes are small. There are over 70 international schools in Bangkok but they can also be found in Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin and on the Eastern Seaboard. From pre-school to higher education, there are internationals schools for every age.

The curriculum may vary between schools although most follow either the American or British curriculum. There are also schools that offer the International Baccalaureate or use national systems from Germany, Switzerland, Japan or India. International school students study internationally recognised courses such as AP, GCE “A” Level, IGCSE and the IB, which allow them to attend higher education institutes in countries outside Thailand.

All schools have to be externally accredited by law to ensure they follow set procedures and meet standards. NEASC, ECIS, WASC and CIS are all accepted accrediting organisations in Thailand. Typically, teachers teach in their native language.

Thai studies are a compulsory subject in international schools as in government schools. Most international schools offer wide ranging extra curricula activities including sports, arts, dance and community service.

Some schools may have long waiting lists so it early application is recommended. Each school will follow its own admissions procedure which can include placement tests and inspection of prior academic records. Typically there is a fee for the admissions process. Normally, schools will require students to have a Non-immigrant ED visa in order to enroll. The parent must make direct contact with the school before attempting to obtain a Non-immigrant ED visa and if possible, prior to coming to Thailand. If the family is on a tourist visa, they will be required to leave the country in order to obtain the necessary visa.

Public/government schools

Education is compulsory for all Thai children from ages six to fifteen. It is not compulsory for preschool children to attend school, however, there are facilities for children aged three to five to attend nursery and preschool.

Government or public schools are free for Thai nationals. Children that have at least one Thai parent are considered Thai nationals if their birth was registered in Thailand by the Thai parent. As a Thai national, they are able to register in a Thai public school and receive all of the educational benefits allocated to a Thai national. The only documents required when registering are a birth certificate and House Registration Document (Tabien Baan).

Parents are required to pay a nominal fee for books and necessities. They are also required to buy a school uniform.

The following are the five areas in the government school curriculum:

  • Basic skills in Thai language and mathematics
  • Life experiences including social studies, natural science, health education, citizenship, conservation
  • Character development including moral education, physical education, music and performing arts, art education
  • Special experience (for grades five to six) involving English language or special vocational skills relevant to the needs of the community
  • Thai studies (except in preschools)

Although there have been recent improvements in the teaching of the English language in Thai schools, many acknowledge that there is still much to be done to improve this.

Many government schools run an English-language programme that may be available to foreign students, but there are fees for this. The programme varies from extra English language classes to a completely separate school within a school where 50 percent or more of the classes are carried out in English with native English speakers. These programmes are considerably cheaper than an international school, but class sizes will be bigger and the method of teaching may be more learning by rote.

Higher education institutions

The different types of higher education institutes are:

  • University
  • Technical Institute
  • College
  • Vocational College
  • Teacher College

Exchange study programme or university enrolment for foreign students

Parents wishing to enrol their children in an international exchange study programme or university in Thailand should contact:

  • Division of International Cooperation
    Ministry of University Affairs
    : 328 Si Ayutthaya Road, Ratchathewi, Bangkok, 10400 Thailand
    Tel: 02 245 8268
    Fax: 02 246 4030