After World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT) and the hearty educational institute executives jointly set up the Literacy Accelerating Curriculum Development Committee in April, the great mission to enhance Thai children’s reading and writing skills has begun.
A big step towards the solution to illiteracy problem is to have in place good student exercise and quality teacher’s manual with a range of instructional techniques and learning materials for school teachers to apply in their classrooms. Thus, the committee and WVFT invited the school teachers who had taken part in the curriculum development 4 years ago to have a reunion to exchange their experience after having applied the curriculum in actual classrooms, share examples, and brainstorm how to keep the curriculum up-to-date. Thanks to the kind support of consultation and endorsement provided by Asst Prof Nalinrat Apichat, Ph D and Asst Prof Kanya Burirat, the two experts in Thai language from Rajabhat Maha Sarakham University's Special Education Center, the Literacy Accelerating Exercise Set with 4 books with teacher’s manual has been released with the objective to improve reading and writing skills of children from early childhood to primary school levels. The exercise set includes:
- Sing, Play, and Move Along for kindergarten 1
- Spelling through Singing and Playing for kindergarten 2
- Fun with Reading and Writing for kindergarten 3
- Reading and Writing Recap and Introduction to Sentence for grade 1-3
Mr Thaworn Intharasorn, Ban Nongtakae-Nongtoom School Director, the committee chairperson; Mr Prakopkiat Chaikerd, Ban Saphung School Director, the vice-chairperson in charge of the manual development; Mr Sathian Lalaeng, Ban Wareesisuk School Director, the vice-chairperson in charge of materials and innovations development; Mr Wirot Luealai, Ban Pamai Sahakorn School Director, the vice-chairperson in charge of curriculum driving, idea development, and evaluation; and Mr Phongsak Khonman, Ban Phon Daeng School Director, the member and secretary, jointly shared background of the Literacy Accelerating Curriculum:
“The majority of the northeastern communities are bilingual. For the local dialect is mainly used in daily communications, Thai is the official language. Of course, students are used to with their mother tongue, which they use at home. At school this becomes a major obstacle which slows down their learning pace. This Literacy Accelerating Curriculum, which we have developed together, has been launched and adapted by Director Phongsak Khonman in teaching children as young as kindergarteners to give young kids reading and writing preparedness, so that when they reach the primary school level, their preparedness will accelerate their learning pace. According to the 4 years of actual application, children have proved to significantly gain better learning. Through these past 4 years many schools have joined the pilot instruction and adopted the curriculum to use in classrooms, in which all students have shown improved schooling outcome. Therefore, we see that this is about time to improve the curriculum and pass it on to our fellow school teachers across the northeast and the country. The Literacy Accelerating Curriculum Development Committee, through WVFT’s support, has mobilised the power of teachers to modify the curriculum to make a generalised version which may be applied in all schools nationwide. A range of learning theories has been applied in the curriculum, including the Brain Gym, Brain-Based Learning (BBL), educational music, children’s rights, and Thai language teaching for children in multi-lingual context. Various subjects have been integrated into the activities, exercises, and instructional materials prepared by teachers. Age-appropriate learning has been taken into consideration.”
The knowledge, techniques, and secret keys that have been intertwined into the Literacy Accelerating Exercise Set include:
• Fingerspelling of consonants, vowels, and intonation markers
• Educational songs designed to be used in teaching Thai language for young children
• Instructional techniques to teach preschoolers and 1st to 3rd graders to read, write, and spell, focusing on ‘edutainment’ process, which adheres to the principle of 3 Don’ts and 1 Do: Don’t Push, Don’t Rush, Don’t Give Up, and Do Carry On.
• The 4-step technique to improve students’ linguistic skills: 1) students spell words out loud after the teacher; 2) the teacher spell words out softly for the students to repeat after out loud; 3) the teacher combines consonants, vowels, and intonation markers to make words for the students to read out loud; and 4) the teacher shows the students flashcards, each containing a word and its illustration, for them to read out loud. At the appropriate time of the day, this process should be carried out on a daily basis for 5-20 minutes to get the students used to with it.
These techniques have been totally unveiled in the Training of Trainers (ToT) for Literacy Acceleration Workshop, which was held on 10-11 May. More than 100 attendants included members from the educational institute executive network, caregivers from child care centers, and teachers from schools in WVFT’s project areas in the northeast. The objective was to enable all teachers to apply the curriculum in teaching their students in the upcoming academic term.
The educational institute executives and teachers attending this workshop have also joined hands to set up the Literacy Acceleration Driving Committee at Regional and School Level to promote knowledge sharing, improve teaching strategies, enhance ToT skills, and build readiness to establish World Vision Foundation of Thailand’s Literacy Acceleration Development Learning Centres in 5 major locations where WVFT’s conducted development projects, namely, Ban Phon Daeng School Network Learning Centre in Dong Luang Project, Mukdahan province, including the other school network learning centres in Soeng Sang, Nakhon Ratchasima province; Si Rattana Project, Sisaket province; Sangkha Project, Surin province, and Nong Bua Daeng Project, Chaiyaphum province. It is said that some schools from the north, central and south have already lined up to visit the learning centres soon.
Finally, the great quest to conquer Thai children’s poor quality education to end the circle of the illiteracy problem has begun in a concrete manner.