In December of 2015, Thailand joined nine other ASEAN countries accepting English as the official language. This development has increased strain on educators at all levels. The UN reports that learning levels have either declined or stagnated over the past decade, and the participation rate in upper secondary education is low compared to many of Thailand’s neighbors, with negative implications for raising the productivity and competitiveness of the labor force.
The Foundation for Supporting & Developing Children (FDSC) has been operating educational programs in Northern Thailand since 1998. Every year “English Activity Camps” are organized to educate and engage high school students and train teachers. This past year, five camps were held over 16 days for 500 students and 180 teachers, using a fun learning approach to build confidence and boost skills.
Another successful program, the “Confidence, Initiative and Leadership Program,” targets 16-18 year olds who participate in fourteen sessions over two school semesters, delivered by educational professionals, counselors and other speakers. Topics focus on personal management and critical life skills, and encourage students to further their studies at vocational colleges or universities.
At the University level, FDSC runs a scholarship program aimed at helping students from rural backgrounds that face enormous financial struggles in furthering their education. The program offers partial scholarships to cover fees, food, transportation and housing costs so that students may devote the required time to their studies. The majority of scholarships are granted to students attending the Lampang Inter-Tech (LIT) University in Chiang Mai, a total of 40 students awarded. Candidates are carefully screened and monitored to ensure that they meet minimum academic requirements. Remedial English language instruction, personal mentoring, and special cultural events are also organized for the students.