School Dropouts Show Reality of Poverty


While the Bangkok elites of the Abhisit regime (the worst Prime Minister since ….?) try to make out that the economy is recovering (it isn’t, not yet) and bring out the recovery plan just the ten months too late, the real nature of the economic crisis is revealed by the details: last year, 113,432 students dropped out of school, largely because of poverty. The worst-affected region was Ubon Ratchathani province, which had 2,771 dropouts.

More than 45,000 children were forced to give up school in 2009 because of their family’s poverty (this according to official figures – might there be some discrepancy with the actual figures? Certainly it underestimates the impact of the ethnic minority people who are denied citizenship, for example). That is a shaming indictment of the Thai government – it is no wonder that people outside of Bangkok hold the Democrats in such contempt as indeed do many of us in Bangkok.

The poverty in Thailand and the real effects of the global economic crisis are hidden from the Bangkok elites, the tourists and the foreign correspondents. When the working classes do seek to bring their grievances to the public’s attention, they are suppressed by the state: leaders of the Triumph workers’ union have been issued with arrest warrants in a very obvious attempt to destroy or at least seriously damage the union (it is a common tactic, along with the use of violence against union organizers and members). The union is applying to the National Human Rights Commission for assistance – I mentioned the other day somewhere that appointments to human rights bodies in Thailand, including Amnesty International, raise eyebrows in the way that awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Henry Kissinger raised eyebrows.

Of course, we are lucky that court decisions are not made for flagrantly political reasons.