At 7:30 in the morning, Xiaoqian settled down with his less than two-year-old son and went out to send his five-year-old daughter to kindergarten. In November, the seaside resort of Phuket in southern Thailand is still hot and the rainy season is still continuing, but Xiaoqian has fully adapted to the weather like summer here all the year round. Since the eldest daughter went to kindergarten, Xiaoqian and his family have been living here. year.
Three years ago, Xiaoqian and her husband left Beijing. After tossing around, they finally settled down in Phuket with their children and became part of the “student army” of overseas international schools. The urban construction on Phuket is simple, there is no familiar online shopping and takeaway platform, and the life circle is relatively separated from the locals. This makes Xiaoqian feel that life is a little flat; but away from the pressure of entering school and air pollution, his daughter is in the Phuket International Kindergarten. The state of “natural growth” makes Xiaoqian feel worthy.
In the other corner of Phuket, there are also Lao Wang and his son who is in the third year of junior high school. They are also from Beijing. After finishing his first year of junior high school in American public school, Wang’s son transferred to the international school in Phuket. Lao Wang is very satisfied with this decision: the difficulty of his son’s schoolwork has been reduced, his physical activities have increased, and “there is more quality education.”
According to data from the Thai Ministry of Education, in the 2016 academic year alone, a total of about 51 thousand people received various levels of international school education in the country, and more than 60% were in the capital Bangkok; of these, 11,000 went to kindergarten and 20,000 went to elementary school. Ten thousand go to middle school; in addition, there are more than 2,000 children who are about to enter kindergarten.
The Ministry of Education of Thailand has not announced the proportion of nationality of international students in the basic education stage, but the data in the higher education stage may be used as a reference: existing data show that from 2011 to 2013, China continuously occupied the top place of Thailand’s higher education students. The local media “Bangkok Post” described the Chinese who are constantly flocking to Thailand: “They come to Thailand to retire, study, earn money, or use this as a’waypoint for their next adventure.”
Europe and the United States move to Thailand
It was a coincidence that Xiaoqian brought his children to school in Phuket. In 2014, Xiaoqian traveled to Thailand and met Chinese friends who had brought their children to school there. “They warmly invited me to visit the international school their children were attending.” However, Xiaoqian “didn’t think about it at all” at that time, after all, the child was too young, “the daughter is only one and a half years old.”
In the winter of 2016, people’s attention was focused on the bad domestic air. Later, in order to help her daughter find a suitable kindergarten, Xiaoqian went around around her home, “No one makes me feel comfortable and relieved.”
At that time, she happened to be pregnant with a second child, and she was hesitant to go abroad. So, her husband encouraged her: “Go to (overseas) to see, anyway, you can change the kindergarten at any time, and you can go back to Beijing if you don’t.” Thailand is not the first choice for small money. She took her daughter to Canada. In May 2017, Xiaoqian arrived in Montreal, Canada’s second largest city. With the help of local friends, he went through the kindergarten admission procedures for his children.
But the cold weather in Canada caught this southerner who had worked hard in Beijing for more than ten years by surprise. “I had become accustomed to winter in the north, but to the Montreal came to understand what is really cold – May outside from time to time in the snow, freezing rain, because of the cold, can not get out, daughter runny nose every day.”
Go The idea of Thailand resurfaced again-Phuket is famous for its coconut groves and beaches, and the climate is much warmer. She remembered the international schools she had visited before, providing all education from kindergarten to high school, “I have a good impression.” More importantly, Thailand is closer to China than North America. “It takes six and a half hours to fly from Beijing to Phuket, and the time difference is only one hour, making it easy to communicate with China.”
Although Thailand’s education as a whole is not more advanced than China, it is one of the first countries in Asia to introduce an international school system. According to data from the Ministry of Education of Thailand in the 2015 academic year, there are approximately 160 international schools at the basic education level in Thailand, 60% of which are located in Bangkok, with a total of approximately 6,800 teachers.
At the same time, similar to international schools in China, Thailand International School also teaches British high school courses commonly known as “A-level”, American Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB).
The class of Xiaoqian’s daughter is less than 20 people. It really means a little United Nations. The children come from Thailand, the United States, Canada, and Northern Europe. “Many people come to Phuket to travel and stay for a long time. The foreign population is particularly large.”
Similar to Xiaoqian, Thailand was not the first choice of Lao Wang before. In the first year of junior high, the child spent time in a public high school in Houston, Texas. When I first arrived in the U.S., my children didn’t adapt. In addition, “the U.S. had poor public security” and campus bullying also existed. After a year, I hurriedly transferred to Thailand.
Before going to Thailand, Pharaoh also considered helping his children transfer to European countries such as Greece, Spain, or Malta. “But these places have a relatively long enrollment cycle, no matter how long it takes more than a year.” High school is no better than kindergarten, and it is not wise to interrupt your studies. Add “I also had relatives and friends in Thailand before, so I know the roots well”.
More importantly, the things that children go to school are very variable, and Thailand’s relatively low cost gives parents more flexibility to adjust. Xiaoqian said that if the child is not used to living abroad and wants to return to the country, “the cost of tossing this trip is much cheaper than going to Montreal or New York.”
“The most cost-effective!” When asked why he did not choose an international school in Singapore or Malaysia in Southeast Asia, a small amount of money blurted out. In addition, countries such as Malaysia have to consider issues such as religion. In contrast, “Thai people are more gentle in the Buddhist system.”
According to a report released by the Center for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) at the end of 2015, the tuition fees of Thai International Schools are about 20% lower than that of Singapore, the most expensive, or about 130,000 RMB per year-more expensive than Malaysia, but more expensive than Hong Kong, China Cheaper than Indonesia. This price is much lower than that of international schools in China. In China, international schools cost 200,000 to 300,000 yuan per year.
A domestic parent told reporters that in 2019, he paid 300,000 yuan in tuition for his children in the fourth grade at an international school, “not including lunch money, if you use a school bus, you have to pay the school bus fee.” Under normal circumstances, tuition fees increase according to different stages of kindergarten, elementary school, junior high school and high school. In addition, “there is also some natural increase every year.”
Xiaoqian also told reporters that her daughter’s tuition for an international kindergarten in Beijing was already 180,000 yuan per year. When she arrived in Phuket, it was discounted by nearly half. In addition, there are some international schools in China that do not admit students of Chinese nationality. In addition to the high tuition fees, parents have to find ways to help their children with immigration and apply for admission as foreign citizens. This is undoubtedly It also raises the threshold for admission.
Xiaoqian said that in addition to tuition fees, there are also living expenses such as houses: “The house is much cheaper than Beijing. You can rent a single-family villa with a garden for RMB 6,000 or 7,000.”
In fact, he is currently focusing on studying abroad in Thailand. There are not many intermediaries. In most cases, real estate agents help to match the international school as a supporting facility, with the purpose of selling the houses around the school.
The real estate agency provided more information: In Phuket, the unit price of a serviced apartment is about 30,000 per square meter. If it is a sea-view room with a higher floor, the price will be higher; in the first few years, the developer also provided A charter service with approximately 7% revenue per year.
In Bangkok, the total price of houses that people can choose from is larger, ranging from 700,000 to 1.5 million yuan, depending on the location and size. Intermediary agencies said that before 2018, cheaper real estate can be bought, starting at as low as 300,000 yuan. “There are a lot of options for 500,000-600,000 yuan, but the prices are all up now.”
The entanglement of going and staying
Xiaoqian noticed that during his three years in Phuket, there were more and more Chinese residents with children around. “I know it’s not a tourist at first glance. If you ask again, they are all here to study.” In the past few years, many friends have come to consult Xiaoqian Thailand for studying application. “(The growth) is very obvious, and the children are getting younger and younger,” she said.
An unconfirmed set of data circulating online shows that there are currently more than 1,000 Chinese students in international schools in Chiang Mai. Many parents are like small money, in addition to the cost-effective, but also fancy the climate here. “Several children from Beijing had serious upper respiratory tract problems. After they came, the medicine stopped.” Xiaoqian said.
Of course, parents born in the 1980s like Xiaoqian have another very important purpose in choosing an international school for their children: to escape the pressure of domestic education.
Now, Xiaoqian is very satisfied with the child’s “natural growth”, “no one is forcing her to pressure her.” Lao Wang’s children started their second year of junior high school after enrolling in school, “playing basketball and football half of the time.” Lao Wang is also very satisfied with his son’s current state. “The school is not that tired, and the teachers and children get along well. International schools in Thailand also emphasize that children should relax.” Therefore, although there is still a ranking of academic performance, “the international school’s The teaching is relatively simple, and the mathematics difficulty of the third grade is equivalent to that of the first grade of Beijing school.
Does this state of relaxation affect children’s learning ability? Lao Wang is not worried about this at all. “Academic level is a selection method.” The student evaluation system of Thai International Schools is in line with overseas standards and can help students successfully connect with the educational resources of overseas universities. The importance of academic level is often less than sound. Personality, curiosity to explore the world.
But not all parents have such a relaxed attitude. Zhang Qiang, a cross-border study abroad consultant based in Shenzhen, said that some parents themselves “are very concerned about their studies, and when they go to this kind of school, they complain that they are too relaxed, and they are both sides.” In this case, there are also parents who choose to return to China again and join the domestic basic education system.
In fact, choosing a school is not easy. There are about 160 international schools in Thailand-these schools have high and low fees and varying levels of education. In addition to tuition, a school selection guide also lists many factors to consider, including the curriculum system, school certification, geographic location, teaching staff, school scale, extracurricular activities, and religious affairs.
For Xiaoqian who chose Thailand from kindergarten, the goal of “going back” at any time may not be easy to achieve. “Short time to good, long time to go back, to keep up with the progress of the country.” She said, “Our school has come a semester of Chinese parents to leave because the school does not teach that stuff.”
Let Parents are struggling with family relationships. Under normal circumstances, if the financial situation cannot support the husband and wife to accompany them to study together, then the accompany is usually the mother. Most of them gave up their careers and separated from their husbands who were still working full-time in the country. On the one hand, this may affect the relationship between husband and wife. On the other hand, “children cannot grow up in the company of their parents.” (All names in the text are pseudonyms)