Education in Thailand

Before the government took control of the school system, education was typically provided by Buddhist Monks and was only available to boys. Nowadays education is available and mandatory for all children between the ages of six and fifteen.  As with most nations that are popular with expats there are a number f international schools in Thailand. These schools are the best option for foreign pupils to attend as the teaching quality is better, resources are more available and lessons are normally taught in English.

The state school system

Compulsory education in Thailand consists of 6 years of primary schooling called Prathorn (level P1 to P6) and 3 years of secondary schooling (level M1-M3).

Since 2001 Thailand’s educational system has been divided into three levels:

Level 1: first three years of school- KG1 to KG3 – is for children aged 3 to 5 years old.

Level 2: Primary or elementary school – P1 to P6 – is for children aged 6 to 11 years old.

Level 3: Secondary school-M1 to M6 – is for children aged 12 to 18 years old.

Similar to the US school system at the end of a school year, students must take a test in order to advance onto the next level.

School hours and holidays

In Thailand the school day typically begins with the children singing the National Anthem at 8:30am. The school day then typically lasts until half three. International schools often have different schedules to state schools. State schools usually have a month-long holiday in October and two months off in March and April.


Foreign children are not typically allowed to attend state schools unless they have permission from the authorities. Application for all schools needs to be sent to the school itself. A foreign student is often only allowed to attend a state school if they have one Thai parent.

Some or all of the following documents are usually required for foreign students enrolling in international or government schools. Check with the school for individual requirements.

  • Passport valid for six months beyond intended length of stay.
  • Non-immigrant ED VISA.
  • All documentation from previous school (if applicable).
  • Birth Certificate.
  • Health Certificate.
  • Immunisation Records.
  • An entrance exam may have to be taken as well.

International schools

International schools in Thailand are popular among expatriates but also among Thai students. Many so-called international schools have less than 10% of international students. However, the classes are usually held in English or other foreign languages. The facilities and quality of teaching in international schools are usually of a high standard and the class sizes are small.