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Schools cannot transfer pregnant students: new ministerial directive
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2023
Schools and higher education institutes can no longer use a legal loophole to transfer pregnant students against their will.
This is thanks to a new ministerial directive issued jointly by the Education Ministry and Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Ministry. The directive was published in the Royal Gazette on Friday.
Both ministers employed their authority under the 2016 Act to Prevent and Solve Adolescent Pregnancy.
The newest directive is a revision of the one issued in 2018, which barred educational institutions from expelling pregnant students. However, the previous directive allowed pregnant students to be transferred to other schools or colleges, which was later used as a legal loophole.
In the revised directive, educational institutions cannot transfer a pregnant student unless the mother-to-be wishes so.
The footnote of the latest regulation states that a revision was necessary because there have been many cases in which pregnant women were transferred out of their schools or colleges against their will.
“The latest revision is necessary to protect pregnant students’ right to an education in an institution, format and period in accordance with their wishes,” the remark reads.
The ministerial directive governs primary and high schools, vocational institutions, and higher education institutes.
In addition to banning the dismissal of pregnant students, it also requires educational institutions to come up with a system to take care of the young mothers-to-be, so they can continue their studies.
Schools and colleges are also required to grant maternity leave to young mothers and adjust their class schedules accordingly.
To ensure that pregnant students receive proper health services, the directive requires that the schools or colleges come up with a system to have them be escorted to the places involved by contacting either relevant government agencies or service facilities.
Records by the United Nations Population Fund show that teenage pregnancy in Thailand has risen steadily from 2002 to 2014. In 2002, 32 of every 1,000 girls under the age of 19 had been pregnant at least once. This number rose to 53 in 2014.
According to the Bureau of Reproductive Health, the number of children born to women aged 15-19 fell to 28 for every 1,000 people in 2020, down from 31 in 2019. However, the number of pregnant teenagers jumped to 47 for every 1,000 in 2021.