Equality is essential at all levels of society. If inequality arises, then what follows is disparity. When a disparity occurs, there will always have people who get a chance. and people who don't get a chance.
The disparity has many aspects such as income, politics, lifestyle, access to resources, and many other dimensions. Importantly, there is one more significant disparity which is “educational disparity”.
The educational disparity is Thailand’s big problem. If this disparity is not reduced, it will negatively affect the creation of quality people for the country. As a result, the country will lose the opportunity to develop.
The latest survey of the number of exceptionally poor students in 29 provinces experiencing learning problems during COVID-19 due to the lack of electricity and equipment found that 87.9 percent of students or 271,888 students were facing problems. The top 5 provinces were Narathiwat, Pattani, Tak, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Yala. However, each area will differently face different problems.
This is just one example of the educational disparity that exists in society, which will make children and youths deprived of educational opportunities. Therefore, both the short and long-term solving solutions are needed to urgently bring "the kids back to school"
It is known that the problem of educational disparity in Thailand has been around for a long time and it cannot be resolved in a short period. Although various agencies have come together to find ways to help children and youth to have access to education. However, the COVID-19 situation in the last two years has dramatically caused the risk of an increase in the number of dropping students out due to the unemployment of many households. Declining income made them unable to bear the burden of expenses. The Equitable Education Fund (EEF) has surveyed the situation of both poor and extra poor children in the academic year 1/21 and has found that the total number was over 1.9 million out of compulsory education 9 million.
According to the existing educational disparities and increasing ones due to covid situation, there are 29 provinces with several exceptionally poor students. The top 5 provinces with the most problems are included 3 southern border provinces namely Narathiwat, Pattani, and Yala.
Regarding such problems, the EEF has initiated an operation known as "Let's take the kids back to school" under the project of “Area-Based Study for Educational Equality". This area-based education is a method that relies on the cooperation with agencies and partners in the targeted area such as local governmental organizations, educational institutions, private organizations, and civil society, including local people who have more knowledge and understanding of the problem than a central agency and can work together to create a mechanism to bring children back into the education system including the development of professional skills that are in line with the needs of each area.
Through the intensive implementation of the “ Spatial Education Program for Educational Equality ” in 20 pilot provinces, the EEF has selected 3 provinces with excellent performance as a prototype or a model, namely Phitsanulok Model, Samut Sakhon Model, and Yala Model. Yala is one of the southern border provinces and 1 of the 5 provinces with the country's most troubled extra-poor students.
"Yala Model" is an integrated model of the expertise of a multi-disciplinary team. The model is operated under the 3 following steps; 1) It starts with "Finding the extraordinarily poor children". 2) Subsequently, the family mindset will be adjusted so that the child's family sees the importance of education, and 3) Explore what problems prevent children from getting access to education, such as family income problems, health problems, and other problems.
The integrated operation under these 3 steps of the "Yala Model" must place the "children" as the premise to help the "children" return to school or receive educational opportunities.
Yala's model for "taking children back to school" generates the unity and integrative cooperation of personnel in every unit and every area leading to the establishment of the "Provincial Education Council" and the "Education Opportunity Fund for Yala Children and youth”. These two establishments will be the important mechanisms for creating equality and reducing educational disparities for children and youth who will grow up to be quality adults in the future.
Educational disparities are a problem that has existed in Thai society for a long time. The reduction of these disparities must rely on the cooperation of all agencies, and organizations, including the children's families affected by disparities.
Success in reducing disparities and creating equality in education through the "Yala Model" reflects a process to reduce disparities in both the short and long term. This process will enable Yala province to have children and youth who receive educational opportunities and grow up to be quality adults. Importantly They will become the important forces in the development of Yala province in the future.