Thai Schools Are Great!
I just read the submission to the site and the comments and observations about kids and education in Thailand that were really spot on! It seems we have some fairly similar views on this although they are different from Stick II's views.
My two boys are also luk-krungs as well. Their Mom was Thai also (she passed away from a brain tumor almost two years ago). They are a bit different as they were born in the USA and attended preschool (anubahn 1,2,&3)
in the US. When we moved to Bangkok our kids were enrolled in Prathom 2 at Sathit Suansunandha and Convent school. The Sathit school didn't have an anubahn program so my youngest one went to anubahn three at Convent along
with their cousins who were in P1 and P3. He then attended P1 at Sathit Suansunandha with his brother. It was difficult for both of them at first as they spoke only a couple of words of Thai and couldn't read or write Thai at all. In six
months time they were fluent in Thai and could read and write as well as any other kid their age. Plus they didn't have an accent when they spoke. Yes, I'm envious of both of them as I mangle the Thai language on a daily basis!
I was not on the full expat package either being an English language teacher at Kasetsart University. Why didn't my kids go to Sathit Kaset? The slots open to Kasetsart employees are for "Thai" ajarns and we "farangs"
are not included in that. That was a sore point for myself and a few other farangs who taught there with school age kids. Also, not all kids of Thai Kasetsart ajarns can get in to the school either. It only increases your chances of getting in….especially
if you slip a few silver notes to the right people. <It should be noted that at some other Satit schools that the kids of foreign staff can get automatic entry – Stick>
As for the International Schools in Bangkok, well I was pretty involved with ISB, the huge American based curriculum school now located in Nonthaburi. It's been in Bangkok a long time being founded in 1957 and was for many years located
at the end of Sukhumvit soi 15. When they moved to their new campus in 1992, New International School Thailand moved into the buildings located there. ISB has a very good program as does NIST and Bangkok Pattana. I would consider those three the
standard for international schools to strive for. I'm not real familiar with the others but have not been impressed by them. Having said all that, would I send my kids to the three big international schools in Bangkok? Well, it all depends
on who is paying. ISB runs about 600,000 baht a year when you factor in all of the extracurricular activities associated with the school. The other two are near that. The problem I have with paying those fees is that ISB is basically using the
American Public School system as their model and trying their best to replicate that. In that end I think they achieve it and actually have a better school than you would find in the USA. Most of that reason is due to the fact that the socio-economic
level you find that makes up the student body is far higher than in the USA. The level of parental involvement in the school is very high as well which contributes to its success. However, if I am in the USA that type of schooling is free! I agree
with Stick II's comments that many kid's academic success is a direct result of the parents and the emphasis that they place on education. Yes, many schools in Thailand are lacking in quality of education. This is especially noticeable
out in the provinces. Bangkok is no exception to this either as many farang teachers will attest to. My opinion is that most of the so called "bi-lingual" schools that charge very high fees are not up to par.
I agree with you Marc that it is good for luk-krung kids to attend very good Thai schools in their early years. They develop good Thai language skills and learn to understand Thai culture as well which will benefit them throughout
their life. I do think that for the high school years attending one of the big three international schools would be a good choice. However, I think attending it in your home country is a much wiser choice as there are a lot more activities both
in and out of the classroom. For that reason, plus the expense of an international school in Thailand, my kids returned to the USA for their final three years of education. Both are now attending universities in the USA and doing very well. What
do they think of their education thus far? They both agree that there was more discipline in Thai schools and that they were more competitive at their schools. However, they really liked attending high school in the USA. They both said that wearing
school uniforms was never a problem in Bangkok and made it easy to decide what to wear each day. They also thought that it would be good for public schools in the USA to adopt uniforms. It would cut down on the expense that some kids demand to
look "cool". Many schools are also afflicted with the problems of gangs and wear gang colors. This would put a serious dent in their gang identification by requiring the wearing of a school uniform. In addition, not everyone in the USA
is rich and by having a standard uniform it would save many parent's a lot of money and cut down on the "fashion show" that often permeates schools in the USA.
The one area I do disagree with is that if both parents are farangs they should send their kids to an international school. Actually, if you do not have Thai citizenship then you are not eligible to attend a Thai school unless you are a foreign
exchange student. Other than the "big three" I don't think I would entertain the idea of the other international schools in Bangkok. I know there are some other international schools in major provincial areas (Chiang Mai, Phuket,
Pattaya) but I really don't know enough about them to make an evaluation of their merits.
I think there are many other good international schools outside of the big three. Schools such as Harrow, Shrewsbury and Regents, to name but a few, all have very good reputations.