Thailand’s Educational System: Everything You Need to Know

Thailand is becoming ever more aggressive when it comes to education. In fact, based on IMD’s World Competitiveness study, it moved three spots higher and is now ranked 53rd out of 63 countries when it comes to Educational Competitiveness. This means that the future is truly bright for Thailand. To help you know more about Thailand’s educational system, we’ll share information regarding the following:

  • general structure of Thailand’s education system
  • primary education in Thailand
  • secondary education in Thailand
  • vocational upper secondary education in Thailand’s
  • higher education in Thailand

The Things You Need to Know About the General Structure of Thailand’s Education System

It will take a child 12 years to finish school education in Thailand. Education is available for free for all students enrolled in public schools. All children are required to attend the 9-year mandatory schooling. Students devote six years to primary education and another six years to secondary education. For secondary education, students take on a lower and an upper level. In Thailand, Grades 1 to 6 are referred to as Pratom. Grades 7 to 12 are referred to as Mattayom.

The current system requires students to pass a national exam at the end of their 3rd year, 6th year, and 9th year levels. Students are immediately tested in Maths and Thai after three years of education. Upon finishing primary education, they are then tested in science, mathematics, Thai, English, and social sciences. It is very easy to enroll in Thai public schools because such institutions are open to all. However, private schools and schools that are members of networks of universities deploy competitive exams for student admission.

All public schools in Thailand use the Thai National Curriculum that is provided by the government. The curriculum promotes the following: self-learning strategies, thinking skills, and moral development.

The Things You Need to Know About Primary Education in Thailand

Primary education in Thailand is referred to as PratomSuksa. It commences at the age of six for every student. This is usually preceded by three years of pre-school. You need to note though that pre-school education is not mandatory in the country. PratomSuksa lasts for six years. Primary learning lessons last for only five hours a day. The government has a strict mandate that primary learning classes should not go beyond five hours. Under Thailand’s education system, PratomSuksa focuses on the following:

  • Basic Skills: Maths and Thai
  • Character Development: Music, Art, Ethics, and Physical Education
  • Life Experience: Social Science and Science
  • Work Education: Basic Vocation Skills and Technology
  • Special Education: English and other subjects required locally.
  • English is taken up in the very first year of primary education.
  • Students receive a Certificate of Primary Education at the end of Pratom 6 after successfully completing the required exams.

The Things You Need to Know About Secondary Education in Thailand

Secondary education in Thailand is referred to as MatayomSuksa. It is divided into two levels: lower (Grades 1 – 3) and higher (Grades 4 – 6). Students who wish to reach the upper level are required to pass a qualifying exam.


It is a government mandate for secondary schooling classes to not go over six hours per day. Come the upper levels, the mandate will be upgraded, in that, classes per day should never be less than six hours.


Completing primary education is the only requirement for students who want to be admitted to secondary schools. Top schools however can require students to pass competitive entrance exams. Students are required to finish at least 90 study units and have passing grades on at least 80 units. It is mandatory for students to take up units in Thai language.

General Education

Students will study five subject areas: Thai, science, social science, foreign languages, and character development. They will also get to choose a mandatory elective subject. They will choose among the following:

  • Maths + Languages
  • Arts + Languages
  • Sciences

A student’s planned course in college will play a large role in determining their choice of elective subjects.

Vocational Path

Students can choose the vocational path after passing the exams for the upper secondary level. Students who prefer practical skills and are in need of early professional training opt for vocational courses.

Credit System

Students follow a credit system during this level. Credit is given for every completed subject. To graduate, a student needs to get at least 75 credits. Credit distribution is strictly observed and it should be as follows:

  • Mandatory Subjects – 15 credits
  • Elective Subjects – 15 credits
  • Optional Subjects – 45 credits

To get a Secondary Certificate of Education (Matayom 6), a student must successfully perform in the upper secondary education final exams. A student may then take university admission exams for their college education.

The Things You Need to Know About Vocational Upper Secondary Education in Thailand

This option allows students to specialize. Students can choose to take up subjects taken up by students who opted for an academic stream and specialize in the following:

  • agriculture
  • home economics
  • business studies
  • engineering
  • arts and crafts

Students who opt for a vocational path may receive the following:

  • Certificate in Vocational Education – Evening Class
  • Certificate in Vocational Education – Dual
  • Certificate in Vocational Education – Credit Accumulation System
  • BorWor Saw or Certificate in Vocational Education

The Things You Need to Know About Higher Education in Thailand

Thailand’s Ministry of Education oversees and supervises the following that offers higher education:

  • Universities
  • Vocational Colleges
  • Technical Colleges
  • Institutes of Technology
  • Police Academies
  • Military Academies
  • Nursing Colleges


IMD World Competitiveness Ranking: Thailand