As Thais schools officially reopened on 1 July after over five months and the burden of many parents’ expenses remain high, Tunyawuj Kamonwongwat, MP of Move Forward Party on Wednesday proposed to the Ministry of Education that schools nationwide should offer flexibility to Thailand’s mandatory school uniforms and help alleviate those burdens.
The weight of parents’ expenses have increased due to the pandemic and subsequent economic downturn, Tunyawuj said, and during this period when schools are reopening, parents will have to now bear the cost of school supplies, too.
This call came at a timely manner, after Thai media reported cases of theft over the past two days: a desperate mother of two from Chumphon — who with her husband lost their jobs from the pandemic — who was caught red handed stealing school uniforms from a mall with her child; and another, a 46-year-old mother from Chonburi, former masseuse who also lost her job, whose daughter’s six school uniforms were stolen from their clothing rack outside their home.
A recent June 11 report by Kasikorn Bank backs up these statements — Thai parents throughout the country have called for the government to help ease their financial burdens and reduce students’ expenses before the start of the new semester.
The report highlights how 2020 is an especially turbulent year for parents with children ages in school, due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and especially in terms of their education spending.
Over 88.9% of parents are concerned about their financial liquidity that will be spent on the new semester at the start of July, the report found, due to several reasons — insufficient savings, the closure of businesses, income cuts, and job losses.
Move Forward, therefore, called for the Ministry of Education to allow schools nationwide in providing more flexibility to students’ attire during this academic year.
School uniforms are mandatory in Thailand in both public and private schools, but the pandemic has severely impacted the livelihoods and income of many parents and families in Thailand.
Several recommendations include: wearing regular clothes to school for those who are not financially ready; communicating with the students and making them understand that wearing regular clothes during this time is not an anomaly; and not pressuring parents to strictly follow this rule during such a challenging time.
If the ministry were to recognize and acknowledge this proposal to the many schools across Thailand, then it will significantly help alleviate the anxiety and burden of many parents, Tunyawuj said.
And when parents and schools can reduce their worries on uniforms, they will be able to start focusing and solving larger problems — to promote learning and skills training for children.
The Ministry of Education, therefore, is directly responsible for this education problem and should focus on addressing the real issue at hand, said Tunyawuj.