No job, be it big or small, can be accomplished solely with an effort of any single person or organisation, let alone such a large-scale mission of tackling Thai children’s poor education quality which encircling the problem of illiteracy, a significant issue which inevitably impacts children’s learning and quality of life as they grow up.
To drive Thai children’s ability to read and write up to the standard, World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT), through the Literacy Hand in Hand project, has stepped forward to take a lead in mobilising educational resources in its development areas to establish Literacy Accelerating Curriculum Development Committee, of which members have come together to improve and tackle the illiteracy problem of children at 7-12 years and to pilot and thrust Thai children in the northeast region to reach the literacy standard.
In the northeastern region alone, WVFT has currently run 22 development projects covering 572 villages, 49 sub-districts in 17 provinces. There are totally 15,872 northeastern sponsored children, over half of whom, or approximately 8,000 children, are between 7-12 years, the age in which basic skills are learned and strong foundation is built to ensure children’s future educational development fulfillment.
Because the united efforts from different teams coming from various areas and sectors require common understanding and shared purpose, which will eventually contribute to the successful literacy standard booster and improvement and the solution to the problem of Thai children’s poor literacy, WVFT hosted a conference to jointly develop a literacy promotion curriculum on 9-10 April 2019 at Petcharat Garden Hotel, Roi Et province. The event was attended by 15 administrators and 14 Thai language teachers from 21 educational institutions across the northeast. Dr Sarawut Rachasrimuang, WVFT National Director, along with the northeastern project staff, also joined the conference.
Besides established common direction and goal towards achieving Thai children’s literacy improvement, the conference resulted in the clarity of the committee’s functions. An agreement was reached to appoint Mr Thaworn Intharasorn, Ban Nongtakae-Nongtoom School Director, as the chairperson; Mr Prakopkiat Chaikerd, Ban Saphung School Director as the vice-chairperson in charge of the manual development; Mr Sathian Lalaeng, Ban Wareesisuk School Director, as the vice-chairperson in charge of materials and innovations development; and Mr Wirot Luealai, Ban Pamai Sahakorn School Director, as the vice-chairperson in charge of curriculum driving, idea development, and evaluation. In addition, Mr Phongsak Khonman, Ban Phon Daeng School Director, was appointed the member and secretary. Definitely, Mr Prawit Dittanet, Dr Wimolrat Seesan, and Miss Sirin Meechai, representatives from WVFT, also joined the committee as members and coordinators. Moreover, the teachers attending the event volunteered to take part in the committee to function under the individual sub-committees.
In collaboration with WVFT, the Literacy Accelerating Curriculum has been developed by Ban Phon Daeng School, which is in Dong Luang Area Development Programme, with the goal to improve child learning and enable students’ standardised literacy. Its processes encompass building capacity and instructional techniques for teachers, supporting instructional materials, and fulfilling educational necessities to ensure children’s readiness, as well as raising parent awareness of the importance of their part to promote child learning. The student reading and writing development process starts as early as in kindergarten level, in which textbook recitation is not the main emphasis, but children are encouraged to learn through a variety of activities, such as singing along body movement. Children are not only entertained, but also gradually absorb fundamental literacy skills through the lyrics specifically composed to help them learn about consonants, vowels, or even word formation. At the primary school level, the focus is on enabling children’s fluent reading, accurate spelling, reading for comprehension, and up-to-standard numeracy skills, through the teacher’s instruction which makes use of constructive materials to fill the class with fun and enabling atmosphere and integrates games to complement children’s learning. Once equipped with proper reading and writing foundation, children will be capable of applying this in other subjects for improved academic outcomes, respectively. Currently, the Literacy Accelerating Curriculum has been adopted by the schools in the coverage area of WVFT’s Child Sponsorship Programme nationwide. Meanwhile, Ban Phon Daeng School has become a model educational institute which is constantly visited by teachers and educators from all over the country.
The next step which the Literacy Accelerating Curriculum Development Committee will take is to conduct a brainstorming session to develop the curriculum manual and to organise a train-the-trainer workshop to capacitate facilitators, who will further pass on the curriculum’s processes to other school teachers and scale up the efforts to incorporate them into other schools across the country.
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.