The Thai education system is mainly determined by the governmental department, the Ministry of Education, which sets standards from pre-school to high school. The Thai constitution guarantees all Thai children 12 years of free education and 9 years of school is mandatory.
The Thai education system consists of basic education and higher education. Basic education covers 6 years of primary school and 6 years of secondary school. Secondary school covers 3 years at the lower level (grade school) and 3 years at the upper level (high school).
Both private and public universities are overseen by the Office of Higher Education Commission, which is a part of the Ministry of Education.
Classes are taught in Thai from Prathom 1 to Matthayom 6, with the exception of international schools and schools with English classes. Thai children are taught English, but the quality of teaching is usually not very good. Most universities have English language programs.
The Thai school system consists of 4 main stages:
Prathom 1-3 (age 6-8)
Prathom 4-6 (age 9-11)
Matthayom 1-3 (age 12-14)
Matthayom 4-6 (age 15-17)
The last 3 Matthayom levels are equal to high school and can consist of both vocational school and academic high school. The students that choose the academic line are usually interested in studying at a university, while the students who choose the vocational line will learn skills for employment after graduation.
Students are admitted to Matthayom 4-6 through an entrance exam called NET (National Education Test).
The school year consists of two separate semesters, which for primary and secondary schools runs from May to March. There is a three week break between semesters in September. The long break between school years from March to May falls during the hottest part of the year and also in time for Songkran, the Thai New Year. All schools adhere to Buddhist religious holidays and international schools usually close at Christmas and New Years.
Uniforms and Student Code
Uniforms are mandatory in the Thai educational system all the way from grade school to most universities. The uniform for grade school is usually black or blue shorts with white shirt and black shoes for boys and a blue or black skirt with white shirt and black shoes for girls.