Only 18% pass

Secondary school students from all areas of Thailand come each spring to Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok to take an examination for entry into one of Thailand's 11 universities. Last May fewer than 14,000 of the nearly 72,000 who took the examination passed -- that's approximately 18 percent.

Education remains a top priority throughout Thailand, and at the beginning of each school year the pawnshops in the cities and towns do a particularly active business. Parents with few baht, but who desire that their children have clothes and equipment for schooling, often pawn stoves, refrigerators, and inherited jewels just so they can ready their children for school.

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