Public education is free and compulsory for all
children from ages 6 to 12. Most children between three and five attend
pre-school. Primary school is for children 6 to 12, lower secondary
for those 12 to 15, and upper secondary for those 15 to 18. In rural
areas, many children drop out after the compulsory six years in order
to help their families.
The first term of the school year is from May to October. After a three-week break, the second term begins in November and ends in March. Summer vacation is from March until May. Classes are held Monday through Friday, and students receive about six hours of instruction a day. The curriculum includes mathematics, history, geography, science, Thai literature, religious instruction and English.
The national anthem is broadcast in schools by
radio every day at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Children line up when they hear
the anthem in the morning. It is followed by a prayer ceremony, during
which the children stand with their palms together in the wai.
Most children wear uniforms to school.
Secondary school students may take vocational subjects or academic courses leading to university. After six years of secondary school, students graduate with the Mathayom Suksa 6 (Higher Secondary School Certificate).
Thailand has 12 public and 5 private universities,
as well as trade schools, art schools, technical colleges and teachers'
colleges. Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University offers university courses
through distance learning.
Military service is compulsory for Thai men when they are 21. If they are exempted owing to university studies, they must enrol before they turn 29. The time served varies from two months to two years, depending on education and prior military training. Women may volunteer to work in administrative positions in the military.