An article published on TIS Monitor about school fees during the Covid-closure has become one of the most widely read and most shared articles on the website. It has reached readers all around the world, and has led to strong reactions from many people.
On May 26, TIS Monitor published an article discussing the fact that many international schools in Thailand have been charging full fees, despite having turned to online learning, something many parents find doesn’t live up to their expectations.
It has become one of this website’s most read, most shared, and most discussed articles.
In various Facebook-groups and also on Reddit, the popular American social news aggregation and discussion website, many readers have shared their frustration.
In one Facebook-group for foreigners in Thailand, and with 51000 members, a user writes: ”… no part refunds were offered or even discounts for future fees. Nice little money maker for the school isn’t it? They don’t even have to supply a full product but receive full payment.”
One user, claiming to be a teacher, comments on online-learning: ”Some kids shine in the process, for others it is very detrimental.”
One user joining in from Manila, the Philippines, shares his experience of schools acting in the same way there.
Feeling of being neglected
In a different Facebook-group, with 1100 members, a user writes: ”While we cannot blame the school for this, we are indeed very unhappy to be requested to pay full price for next semester. The problem is if we don’t pay, the kids lose their spot at the school. Dilemma.”
Another user touches upon the feeling of being neglected: ”We sent a letter to the school signed by 30 parents before the term started asking to postpone or allow us to withdraw but they said they’re keeping our tuition and have no obligation to return it.”
Yet another parent writes about taking a chance and paying the fee late: ”I decided to pay half and so far the school has accepted. But again most of the work is being done by my wife.”
In this Facebook-group, some users defended the schools: ”They are doing a good job. Excellent use of technology as well,” one user writes.
Another user points out that the schools still need to cover their costs: ”I’m both a parent and a teacher. They can’t break the contracts and still have to pay all staffing.”
Some defend the schools
Reddit ranks as the 18th-most-visited website in the world, and 7th most-visited website in the U.S. Here, the discussion has been heated. ”International schools in Thailand are no charities, they charge astronomical fees, and as far as I’m aware, don’t give breaks to parents who fall on hard times. Why would parents act as a charity to them?” one Reddit user says.
But another Reddit-user defended the schools: ”All these schools have rent/mortgages/maintenance fees to pay regardless of whether or not they are being used at the moment. If they can’t take in enough income to cover that they will fail. I wonder how happy the parents will be then?”
Yet another Reddit-user praised the online learning: ”My school did a great job giving classes on zoom. It’s one of the rare school with really good admins that aren’t doing it for profits.”
More and more international readers
Since the original article was published on TIS Monitor the number of visitors to the website has continued to grow, and is now reaching an ever larger audience around the world.
Roughly ten percent of the website’s readers are now from outside of Thailand, with The United States, United Kingdom, China, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong being among the countries.
Michael Töpffer is editor-in-chief at TIS Monitor.
”We don’t have exact data as to who they are, but I assume most of them are doing research about international schools before moving to Thailand. It shows that professional, unbiased journalism is important when families need to make decisions of any kind. International schooling in Thailand is a sector where this kind of journalism has been lacking until now. When families are looking to choose schools in Thailand, more and more of them will turn to TIS Monitor. That’s great,” he says.