Many Thai private schools are at risk of shutting down permanently in wake of the ongoing Covid-crisis. To date no international school covered by TIS Monitor is among them.
Official Thai government sources report that about 70 private schools of any kind in Thailand have closed down during the past nine months, and another 1,000 are at risk of closure due to the impacts of COVID-19. Another dozen schools have already notified OPEC, the Office of the Private Education Commission, about their decision to close.
TIS Monitor covers all English language international schools offering at least six years of education on primary level and above. The number totals approximately 130.
Still up and running
Over the past few months, TIS Monitor has gathered information from all of them, either by checking their websites or social media accounts for updates, or by contacting them via phone or email. All of them are up and running, though some were delayed in turning from online-learning to on-site learning during the second half of 2021 as all schools need approval to re-open their campuses for children after the mandatory closure imposed earlier this year.
In Chiang Mai, local authorities decided to switch back to online-learning after the school opening in August as a Covid-control measure.
According to OPEC, over the last 2 years, only six international schools have closed in Thailand, and another four have had their licenses revoked. OPEC has no information on whether any of these closures were related to the pandemic. Of these 10, most were kindergartens, and one was the SISB Ekkamai campus. On this campus, the new international school Astra Academy recently opened.
If a school closes permanently, OPEC will rescind their license.
”If they want to open a new school again, they have to start the process again from the beginning,” says Amollada Siripoj, Special School Policy Department, at OPEC.
Including kindergartens, there are a total of 226 international schools in Thailand.
It could get worse
But there are signs that the situation for international schools in Thailand could soon get worse.
While the number of Covid-cases in Thailand have been going down since the peak of the previous wave in August, questions still remain about how the new variants of the virus will affect Thailand.
European countries, including the Netherlands, UK, and Norway, have imposed new lockdowns and restrictions limiting businesses and people’s daily lives due to new, more transmissible virus variants.
On December 21, Thailand suspended the popular ‘Test & Go’ visa scheme that allowed for visitors to more easily enter Thailand. It is not clear yet how that will affect the business for international schools in the country.
”We can see that a new wave of the virus is coming and likely to hit Thailand too. Families who were ready to relocate to Thailand might postpone it until the situation is clearer. After all, Thailand has a history of ordering schools to turn to online-learning, which some parents would be keen to avoid,” says Dr Anders Engvall, senior analyst at TIS Monitor.
”If this is the case, it would cut revenues for the schools unless they manage to attract local families, which could be very challenging in these difficult times,” he continues.
Some international schools in Thailand are still thriving despite the challenging times. SISB, which runs international schools on four campuses in Thailand, is also listed on the Thai stock exchange. For the third quarter of 2021, the company presented a profit margin of more than 22%, equal to more than 182 million baht.