Inequality of opportunities and infrastructure in Thailand
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Inequality of opportunities and infrastructure in Thailand

Atiya in the Bangkok Post:

Ms Yingluck also took her cue from what is thought to be the root cause of Thai political wrangling and addressed the problem of inequalities. Even though the issue is well-known, the prime minister’s numbers are still startling. Just 1.5% of youngsters at school age from the poor segment have a chance of furthering their studies at college level compared to 32% from the non-poor group. Also, more than 90% of land ownership (about 120 million rai around the country) belongs to only about 10% of the population.

In terms of income, there are about 1 million bank accounts with more than 1 million baht in them, or 1.5% of all the bank accounts in the country, but that small percentage accounts for more than 70% of all the savings in the system, according to the Bank of Thailand.

What PM Yingluck envisaged is basically a plan to boost the country’s competitiveness by improving our infrastructure, especially in the transport sector. That is where the 2-trillion-baht borrowing plan to be tabled for cabinet approval reportedly next month comes into play. Most of the money will be invested in megaprojects _ building logistic links, 10 electric train routes and four high-speed train lines over a period of seven years.

BP: BP has blogged previously on the inequality of education opportunities. There are a number of factors involved, including family priorities, wealth etc., which means that children do not get the same opportunities and it is impossible to provide the exact same opportunities to each child (you can’t stop parents from providing resources to their children).

However, at schools in urban areas in Thailand, the facilities and the resources received from the government are significantly greater than those for rural schools. Because of the inequality of opportunities where urban schools receive much greater resources than rural schools, where more of the poor are located, it is not surprising that just 1.5% of the those who are poor go to college compared to 32% of those who are not poor.

While there are clear advantages to infrastructure spending, but will infrastructure spending in the transport sector do much to redress the inequality of opportunities? What about reforming the education sector?