education ministry takes steps to address teacher debt problem - Education ministry takes steps to address teacher debt problem

The Ministry of Education has been working with teacher’s savings cooperatives and other officials across the country to resolve hefty debts, totalling about 1.4 trillion baht, incurred by about 900,000 teachers with 108 cooperatives.

According to Education Minister Treenuch Thienthong, a debt refinancing program was launched in February, under which the indebted teachers can apply for a new loan with an average interest rate of 5.5%, with the repayments deducted from their monthly salaries, but leaving their take-home pay at a minimum of 30% of their salaries, to ensure they have enough money to avoid further borrowing.

Over 25,800 teachers have, so far, registered to join the program.

During a recent meeting with representatives of teacher’s savings cooperatives, in the southern province of Surat Thani, the minister informed the participants of the government’s intention to ease the debt problem of teachers in a more practical and effective way.

Of the 108 teacher’s savings cooperatives, only 13 have been charging an interest rate of 5% or less, while at least 13 charging 7-9% interest per annum.

She said that the cooperatives should charge a uniform interest rate, which should not exceed 5%.

The Education Ministry and related officials have been selecting some of the cooperatives to be used as models in carrying out debt refinancing, as a means of easing their debt burden.

Teachers’ debt has been a chronic problem which no government in the past has succeeded in addressing.

Prime Minister Prayut has, however, designated 2022 as the year for the government to address the nation’s household debt problem.