The funds were handed out by the Women Association for Creative Thailand’s Social Development, the Phuket office of the Equitable Education Fund (EEF), the Boon Rawd - Eakkapot Vanich Foundation and the Angels Wings Foundation.
Present of the handover at the Faculty of Management Science meeting room at Phuket Rajabhat University were Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew in his role as chairman of the Working Group for the Promotion of Area-Based Education Projects for Equality of Education in Phuket Province, joined by Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation (PPAO, or OrBorJor) President Rewat Areerob.
Also present was Anchalee Vanich Tephabutra, former Phuket MP and President of the Women Association for Creative Thailand’s Social Development, which donated B400,000 to the initiative. The amounts donated by the other contributors was not reported.
Ms Anchalee explained that the assistance was much needed as many families across Phuket had been plunged into “acute poverty”.
“Research conducted by lecturers from the Prince of Songkla University has found that the average monthly income of the population of Phuket during the pandemic is only B1,961 per month. This number is considered lower than the poverty line in Thailand,” Ms Anchalee noted.
“The economic crisis under the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the educational system and many students in Phuket. Some children have had to move out of the province because their parents have become unemployed. Some children are facing the risk of dropping out of schools because their families cannot support the cost of education,” Mrs Anchalee explained.
“We have come to help these groups of children to have a chance to extend their educational career. Most of the students who are receiving the scholarships will take the entrance examinations for higher education at famous faculties and institutions such as Chiang Mai University, Mae Fah Luang University, Walailak University, and so on,” Ms Anchalee explained.
“In addition, we are also supporting students at Phuket Vocational College and the Phuket Labour Development Center,” she continued.
One of the students who received financial support at the event yesterday expressed her deep gratitude for the donation from officials and the foundations, “especially in this tough time under the pandemic,” she said.
The money will be spent on school supplies such as stationary, paying internet bills so she can attend online classes, and for food for living, the student said.
The national EEF notes that there are 569,000 poor primary and secondary aged students in Thailand. Beyond that there are 670,000 children aged from 3 to 17 years old who are out of school.
“Many more children who are from very low-income families who have limited opportunities to get to higher education or secure good jobs,” the EEF admits.
The poorest primary and secondary aged students are those whose average monthly income of family members are between US$40-300, according to the Department of Provincial Administration, Ministry of Interior and Office of Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education.
According to the National Education Account of Thailand, children who are from very low-income families ‒ the lowest 20% of the population ‒ have only a 5% chance of getting into higher education, which is about six times below the national average.
In July this year, Ms Anchalee while spearheading an initiative by the Phuket EEF office to determine the risk of children not being able to attend school due to the impact of the economic crisis in Phuket found that 10% of shoolage children were already not attending school due to the family’s dire financial situation.
Among the parents Ms Anchalee spoke to during that mission were people left jobless or forced to close their businesses that relied on tourism.
One couple were left homeless after they were unable to pay their rent for a year.