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Children enjoying Thai education.

A Guide to Thailand’s Education System for Expatriate Families

Thailand is not only a fantastic destination for tourists but also an appealing choice for those seeking to live and work there. And, for the ones contemplating a move to The Land of Smiles with their families, one of the initial aspects to consider is the education system. 

In this guide, we will provide an overview of Thailand’s educational landscape and what expat parents can anticipate.

Thailand’s Education System Explained

​Thailand boasts one of the world’s most distinctive and intriguing education systems. For expatriate families, understanding how this system works is vital to ensure their children receive the best possible education.

The Thai education system is organized into three main tiers: primary, secondary, and tertiary. 

Primary education is compulsory for all children aged 6 to 12 and it’s provided free of charge in government-run schools. 

Secondary education, while also free, is not mandatory and typically spans three years. 

Tertiary education encompasses both university and vocational training and generally involves tuition fees.

The Thai government places a strong emphasis on education, resulting in generally high-quality schools and teachers. 

Nevertheless, foreign families may encounter certain challenges, such as the predominant use of the Thai language as the medium of instruction and the limited availability of English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. 

Even more, the curriculum can differ significantly from what students are accustomed to in their home countries. For expatriate families seeking English-language education for their children, there are various options available. 

Private international schools in Thailand offer curricula aligned with those of schools in the UK, US, or Australia. While these schools often come with high tuition fees, they provide small class sizes and excellent facilities.

“Bilingual” schools are another alternative, offering instruction in both Thai and English. These can be an appealing choice for families desiring their children to be fully immersed in the local culture while still receiving a solid English-language education.

Whichever educational path you choose for your child, diligent research is essential to ensure that the chosen school aligns with your family’s needs and interests.

School Curriculum in Thailand

As the expatriate community in Thailand continues to expand, so does the demand for international schools that cater to the educational needs of their children. However, given the array of curriculum choices available, it can be challenging to determine which one best suits your family’s requirements.

To assist you in making an informed decision, we’ve compiled a guide to the most prevalent school curriculum options accessible in Thailand for expatriate families.

Three of the most popular curriculum options available in Thailand are the International Baccalaureate (IB), the British Curriculum (BG), and the American Curriculum (AC).

International Baccalaureate (IB)

The IB is an internationally recognized curriculum offered at select schools in Thailand. It is a rigorous program meticulously designed to challenge students academically and prepare them for university.

British Curriculum (BG)

The British Curriculum is favored by numerous British expatriate families residing in Thailand. It is available at several international schools and delivers a well-rounded education that fosters critical thinking and problem-solving skills in students.

American Curriculum (AC)

The American Curriculum ranks as the most prevalent curriculum option in Thailand for American families. It is available at numerous international schools and offers a comprehensive education that equips students for university studies.

Regardless of the curriculum you choose, you can rest assured that your child will receive a high-quality education at one of Thailand’s numerous outstanding international schools.

Assessment and Examination Systems

Thailand has a rich history of embracing expatriates and their families, leading to the establishment of numerous international schools to serve this diverse community. 

However, the absence of a centralized assessment or examination system for these schools can present challenges for parents in evaluating their child’s progress or comparing different educational institutions.

When selecting a school in Thailand for your family, you should take several crucial factors into account. 

  1. One of these factors is the curriculum offered. Many international schools align their curriculum with the educational system of the home country of the majority of their students. For instance, you’ll find various British, American, and Australian schools in Thailand. On the other hand, some schools adopt an international curriculum, often blending elements from various educational systems.
  1. Another significant consideration is the language of instruction. While most international schools in Thailand deliver instruction in English, there are also establishments offering bilingual or multilingual teachings. This can be advantageous for children who are non-native English speakers or for those keen on acquiring proficiency in another language.
  1. The assessment and examination system employed by an international school is another crucial aspect to consider. Many schools use diverse methods to evaluate student progress, but the absence of a centralized system can make it challenging to compare schools or track your child’s academic development.

When choosing an international school for your family, it’s really important to do some careful research. Talk to other parents, go visit the schools yourself, and discover what they teach, what language they use in class, and how they test the students. 

By putting some effort and paying attention to these details, you’ll be able to find the school that’s just right for your family and matches what you want for your children’s education.

The Cost of Education in Thailand for Expatriate Families


​As an expat family in Thailand, the cost of education can indeed be a significant concern. Since non-Thai citizens are not eligible for free education in public schools, the options typically boil down to enrolling your children in international schools or hiring a tutor.

International schools can come with a hefty price tag, particularly if you aim for top-tier institutions. For instance, schools like Bangkok International School may charge over $20,000 per child per year. Even more, living in a city like Bangkok, known for its high cost of living, can add to the financial strain.

Opting for homeschooling can be a sensible decision, though. It may allow you to tailor your children’s education to your family’s specific needs and values, while sidestepping the high tuition fees associated with international schools.

It’s important to acknowledge that homeschooling may not be suitable for every family, as each has unique circumstances and preferences. However, if you’re contemplating this path, there are many resources available to help you initiate your homeschooling journey. 

Moreover, the increasing number of digital nomads in Thailand shows that homeschooling while working from home is possible.

Scholarships and Financial Aid In Thailand for Expatriate Families

As the cost of living in Thailand continues to rise, many families are seeking ways to ease their financial burdens. One effective approach is to explore scholarship and financial aid opportunities.

Numerous organizations offer scholarships and financial aid to expatriate families in Thailand. These organizations encompass various types, with the most common being embassy-based entities representing the family’s home country. 

Other sources include private charities, foundations, corporations, and businesses.

The most prevalent type of scholarship is the academic scholarship, typically based on a student’s academic performance and often renewable each year.

Additional scholarship categories include need-based scholarships, which hinge on the family’s financial circumstances, and merit-based scholarships, which are based on a student’s involvement in extracurricular activities and community service.

The application process for scholarships usually consists of filling out an application form. 

This form typically requests essential information about the family, including income details and the number of children in the family. After that, the completed form is submitted to the organization offering the scholarship.

The organization then reviews the applications and renders decisions regarding scholarship awards. If a family is selected for a scholarship, they typically receive financial assistance in the form of a check. They can then use these funds to offset various educational expenses, including tuition, textbooks, and other associated fees.

All in all, Thailand offers various options for digital nomad families that are affordable and suited for their childrens’ needs.


Becoming a digital nomad offers fantastic opportunities for self-discovery, education, and travel, whether you’re solo or with your family. While certain aspects of this lifestyle may appear daunting, the potential rewards are both extraordinary and unique.

To alleviate the stress associated with relocating to a new country, Shelter is delighted to offer assistance with your visa application. Simply complete our form, and rest assured that the burdensome paperwork is no longer your concern.

Now, you can direct your attention to other crucial matters, and as you prepare for your adventure in the Land of Smiles, Shelter is always at your service, ready to provide you with guides, tips, and tricks to help you make the most of your digital nomad experience in Thailand.

26 Oct