According to the latest PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) in 2015, it was found that Thailand was ranked the 55th from 72 countries in the area of reading. Thai children achieved 409 reading score, which was below the average score of 493, based on the standard of OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). In addition, other issues related to Thai children’s educational weaknesses were unveiled. Illiteracy was highly influenced by the family and the school. At home, it was found that parents considered themselves unable to teach their children do homework. Moreover, because some children did not use Thai language at home, there were communication obstacles and negative impacts towards classroom activities. In terms of the school and teachers, it was found that there were quite a number of unreadiness.
As such, World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT) has developed the 2019 – 2023 oranisational strategy, which embraces all work to support the well-being of children of all ages, including child learning development promotion and interventions to tackle illiteracy among primary school children through Literacy Hand In Hand (LHH) project. Two key cirriculums, Celebrating Famiy and Home-Based Learning, have been driven to provide training to parents, teachers and local leaders, who would become trainers who can pass on knowledge and urge network building to enable Thai children’s well-being. The Home-Based Learning focuses on building readiness in 5 aspects: the family has readiness to care for children; the community has readiness to cooperate; the school has readiness to teach; the committee has readiness to support; and the child has readiness to read and write, to enable children in grade 1-6 to achieve the level of Thai language reading and writing that meets the standard.
The Home-Based Learning curriculum emphasises parent’s roles to raise their children to be education-oriented because learning starts at home. With cooperation from parents, the Home-Based Learning may simply be conducted. For example, flashcards may be posted around the house; a homework cornor may be set up; simple learning materials may be produced by parents; and a child learning carlendar may be made, etc.
The Celebrating Family curriculum promotes parents’ cultivation of moral and ethics in children, encourages parents to show their affections towards their children through hugs and avoid negative sayings that would deter children from learn. Parents should not reprimand, but rather mentally support children, and spend quality time doing activities together. For example, parents may make a promise with children that they will have dinner together this evening.
Dr Wimolrat Seesan, Education and Life Skills Department Manager of World Vision Foundation of Thailand added further about background of these interventions: a research on education conducted by the University of North Carolina, USA has found that a child’s academic achievement does not depend on only the school’s quality but also the family (parents). All factors have impacted children’s learning effectiveness. This research has also revealed that children receiving attentiveness and learning encouragement from parents gain better learning development and academic achieveemnts than those who attend quality educational institutes but lack parents’ attention. “Although this is an oversea research, according to the data collection conducted by WVFT’s Education and Life Skills Department, it was found that the research agrees with the findings of Thailand’s child learning development, especially among primary school students. In order to promote Thai children’s functional literacy and age-appropriate learning development, WVFT has prioritised parents engagement and supported all households in the areas in which Child Sponsorship programme is implemented to apply the ‘Home-based Learning’ along with the ‘Celebrating Family’ initiatives to foster Thai children to become good and productive citizens.”
Mr Jetarinchai Charoenlek, a teacher of Ban Mae La School, Mae Sariang district, Mae Hong Son province said: “My students are of the ages of learning to read and write. Starting from kindergarten to grade 6, children are mainly prepared for reading and writing. The Literacy Promotion Project is mainly run by the government and supplemented by WVFT in the area of parents engagement. As a teacher, I think it is superb. Based on my experience, child literacy promotion is possible only with full cooperation from parents.”
“There are many things we need to work on to educate the child and the family, for instance, how to lead people on taking better care of their families, to be a good mom who gives children advice and tries to understand them and tells them what is right and what is wrong if they have made some mistakes. I will pass on the knowledge to my peers during the village meeting,” said Mrs Boh Daengdon, a parent from a community in Chat Trakan district, Pitsanulok province.
“I’ve worked with WVFT for 7 years. The organisation has done a lot to give children opportunities and enhance their quality of life and life skills. After having joined this project, I think it is a good and beneficial activity. The knowledge gained from the Celebrating Family can also be integrated to fully develop capacity of children in the area, as well as their families and parents, to improve their quality of life in the quality society. The detailed processes may also be used to build on the project and applied in other similar works,” said Mr Suttichai Mabuap, a representative from a local administrative organisation in Thong Saen Khan district, Uttaradit province.