One Tambon One Scholarship: Number's up for overseas students, after graduation, they should show their gratitude to Thailand

Published: 3/11/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

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The state will end its support in 2013 for students granted scholarships under the One District-One Scholarship scheme initiated by the Thaksin Shinawatra government.

An Education Ministry committee overseeing the scheme yesterday also agreed to cancel the programme for a third lot of students.

Education Minister Jurin Laksanavisit said the committee decided financial support for the two groups of 1,800 students now receiving the scholarships would be given until 2013. The deadline set a clear guideline regarding state financial support, he said.

The ministry estimated that about 7.5 billion baht was needed to finance the scheme from 2008 to 2013.

The scheme is among the populist policies launched by the Thaksin government.

It was supposed to be financed by the sale of two- and three-digit lottery tickets.

But the lottery was suspended pending legal clarification after the Thaksin government was removed by the coup in 2006.

That left the government to shoulder the financial burden until the students completed their studies.

Permanent secretary for education Chinnaphat Phumrat has been assigned to study the legal requirements for scholarship students to work in Thailand after completing their studies overseas.

Mr Jurin said some students had finished their studies and refused to return, violating the conditions of the scheme which required them to work in Thailand to repay the benefits they had received.

Others sidestepped the conditions by withdrawing from the scheme just before finishing their studies.

The minister said the committee did not think it was right for the students to evade the conditions. This made it necessary to study the legal aspects to ensure the students return to work in Thailand.

"The government has spent almost 10 billion baht to send them abroad to study," he said. "After graduation, they should think of showing their gratitude to the country."

The Foreign Ministry earlier proposed that the students not be issued with new passports when their present ones expire. But the committee did not make any recommendation on the proposal, Mr Jurin said.

The permanent secretary for education would set conditions requiring students who were unable to finish their studies within seven years to be responsible for their own expenses, he said.

If the students could not afford it, they might be required to work for the state to repay the money the government had given them.