Sprouts is a public platform that is helping to spread awareness about the critical state of education in Thailand. From their informative and thought-provoking YouTube videos, they have collected and analyzed thousands of user comments on ways to improve the education system in Thailand. Yvonne Liang speaks with Sprouts founder, Jonas Koblin about the state of education in Thailand and how it can be improved upon.

Thailand consistently scores among the lowest nations in international testing in Math, English, Science, why is that?
That’s a difficult question. From looking at several research papers and the comments at our video, we believe it’s a combination of unstable politics (there were 12 Education ministers in the last 10 years), the inequality in school budgets and opportunities between central and upcountry Thailand as well as traditional Thai values such as acceptance of authority and adaptation to the status quo.

What’s something important but not widely known or well understood about public education in Thailand?
50% of all Thai schools are small with less than 120 students. Most of those schools are upcountry, have tiny budgets and not even one teacher per grate. The chance for these children to receive a decent education at such a school is tiny.

What do you think Thailand can and should learn from other countries when it comes to public education?
In 2012 Unicef ranked Thailand as No. 2 in the world when it comes to public education as % of GDP. Vietnam spends far less and produces students with much higher achievement scores. So money is not the solution to the problem. A combination of accountability, promotion of low cost private schools and a sense of responsibility among parents might work better than throwing money at the problem.

Why do you personally feel it’s important to improve the state of education in Thailand?
I really like this country and I went to university here myself. A good and inspiring education does 3 essential things for us in life:

  1. It’s what will bring us humans forward.
  2. It provides us with the tools we need to apply ourselves in the future world of work, it’s the only insurance we have for future earnings.
  3. A well-rounded, interested and inspired human being is interested in almost anything and there is almost endless joy in exploring new things, different viewpoints, and one owns limitation of knowledge. Plus, you save a lot of money. Because once you receive joy from intangible goods, such as a good conversation, the thought of buying a new car seems more like a burden than a solution.

In Thailand around 60% of all kids go to schools that even by Thai standards don’t reach the minimum requirements to be classified as “satisfactory”. So if you are born in Thailand today, you will compete with somebody for a job in 20 years. That somebody might be from anywhere in the world. That job will most likely be a job not even invented today and it’s most likely that you went to a school that is classified as “below satisfactory”. This is not acceptable.

Plus, it just makes me sad to know that so many people go to class for some many years and leave school with most of curiosity at bay.

What would you like to accomplish through Sprouts?
At the moment we just want to build a community around the topic and give those who seek change more voice. Later we plan to open low cost private schools and ideally build an open curriculum around it for others to copy and paste.

What is the next video that you plan to make?
We have collected and analyzed over 15,000 opinions from the comments below our first video. Our next video that is again sponsored by MinuteVideos will summarize the key findings. A lot of interesting stuff to come, so you better subscribe to our YouTube channel.

For more information, check out Sprouts website and Facebook page.