During this time of every year, parents having school children have to set aside expenses for the new school year. These include tuition fees (for those sending their children to private and international schools), fees for education services and activities at schools, textbook, education equipment, and school uniform expenditures. However, their education expenses during the back-to-school season in 2020 differ from those seen in the previous years due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has affected employment and income of some parents, who have had to close their businesses. At the same time, the Ministry of Education has postponed the start of the new semester to July 1, 2020 to reduce risks to school children, and prepared plans for online learning courses during the school break and in the case of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. From April 1 to May 10, 2020, KResearch conducted a behavioral survey on education expenditures and the impact of COVID-19 on parents in Greater Bangkok during the 2020 back-to-school season, using a random sampling of 480 parents having school children studying in kindergartens through high schools. Key findings are as follows:
The 2020 back-to-school season will be a difficult time for parents with school children, especially in terms of education expenses, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The poll shows that over 88.9 percent of the parents are concerned about financial liquidity for education expenses during the new school year because of numerous reasons, namely insufficient savings as short-term business closures have adversely affected their income, and a furlough.
KResearch have assessed that parents residing in Greater Bangkok will likely incur approximately THB28.26 billion, increasing only 0.1 percent YoY, in education expenses for their children (studying at kindergartens through high schools) during the 2020 back-to-school season. A majority of parents have cut their expenses on school uniforms and education equipment, and only spend on such items only if they are necessary.
In addition, more than 86 percent of the parents surveyed are still worried if their children have to return to schools and want to see educational institutions introduce long-term measures to combat the COVID-19. These include screening/measuring students' body temperatures before entering the schools, provision of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, a requirement for students to wear masks, ensuring that common areas in schools are not crowded, maintaining social distancing in classrooms, cleaning and disinfecting classrooms and facilities around the schools and learning equipment, adjusting and reducing sports activities that require close contact among players, adjusting study timetables and introducing staggered school hours to reduce crowding in classrooms/schools.
Learning via online media/free television channels as intended by the government to be part of the preparations prior to the new school semester is a good concept for students to improve their skills and knowledge, as well bracing for a second wave of COVID-19. However, aside from the assistance to equip parents and students, the content and format of such learning may need adjustments to make them more interesting, and that they can effectively help improve skills, thoughts and two-way communication skills of students. This is to ensure that online learning is another effective channel for students. In addition, providing a service point, for instance at official places so that students, who do not have the required equipment, can access to learning via online/free television channels may help reduce gaps in Thai education.