Thirty cents. There’s not much you can buy for $0.30 these days, but in Thailand the meagre amount multiplied by many willing people is allowing 230 children from desperately poor households to attend school.
Initiated last year in the northern Thailand city of Chiang Mai, the Bt10 Chiang Mai Fund asked local residents who were able and willing to donate Bt10 (US$0.30) each to help the regions desperately poor children stay in school. Within one month donations had reached Bt2.7 million ($81,428).
At a public forum in Chiang Mai last week Phairat Maichompoo, vice president of the Chiang Mai Provincial Administrative Organisation (PAO) and secretary of the Chiang Mai Network for Education Reform, said that the success of the Bt10 Chiang Mai Fund meant that 230 children from severely financially challenged families had received scholarships of between Bt5,000 and Bt30,000 ($150-$90).
“Our fund proved a success. So, I think we will be able to reduce educational gaps in the country if there are similar funds in other areas too”, The Nation quoted Mr Maichompoo as telling a forum in Chiang Mai.
|Dr Prasarn Trairatvorakul discusses the aims of the EQUITABLE Education Fund (EEF) with NBT News Today Video NBT World|
The success of the Bt10 Chiang Mai Fund has not escaped Dr Prasarn Trairatvorakul, former Governor of the Bank of Thailand (BoT) and recently appointed president of the newly minted EQUITABLE Education Fund (EEF), who has plans to promote a similar model nationwide.
A Chan-o-cha administration initiative, the EEF came into effect in May this year with the mission of reducing educational inequality in Thailand, and to reduce the drop-out rate among poor, underprivileged, and disabled children.
However, with a foundation budget of just Bt1 billion ($30.161 mln) — plus ‘money from the Government Lottery Office, as deemed appropriate by the Cabinet’ (the original draft propossal had requested a budget of five per cent of the state budget or about Bt25 billion ($754 mln) annually)– the scheme is searching for ways to get more bang for it baht.
Speaking at the first of four public forums aimed at generating private-sector involvement, Dr Trairatvorakul described the Bt10 Chiang Mai Fund as an example of how the community could contribute without waiting for government involvement. However, with the initial budget equating to just Bt1,622 ($49) per head for each of Thailand’s 620,000 ‘poor children’, government involvement might be minimal at best.
Thailand’s Ministry of Education (MoE) did not respond to requests for comment.
Feature photo Joaquin uy
- Schooling for poor kids thanks to Bt10 from Chiang Mai residents (The Nation)
- New Equitable Education Fund ‘must break with past and collaborate’ (The Nation)
- NLA approves Equitable Education Fund bill (The Nation)
He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia, with stints in the Middle East, the USA, and England.
He has covered major world events including Operation Desert Shield/ Storm, the 1991 pillage in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010, and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Prior to AEC News Today he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.
In the mid-80s and early 90s he owned JLF Promotions, the largest above and below the line marketing and PR firm servicing the high-technology industry in Australia. It was sold in 1995.