Currently, around 250 million children in Thailand aren’t capable of reaching their full potential. A study was recently completed that examined children under five years of age and found that they are in a very vulnerable position, because of a lack of early childhood education. It isn’t that these programs don’t exist – they do – but they are out of the reach of many young children in the country.
Lawmakers and policymakers, including the leader of UNESCO Bangkok, from several Asian countries, got together recently and came up with a plan to deal with this situation in a positive manner.
The Kathmandu Statement
The results of this conference are called the Kathmandu Statement. It set up a number of goals and ways to reach them. The statement covers more than just Thailand – it sets those plans in place for over 28 Asian countries. This means that the entire area within its purview will see an increase in the number of children signing up for and receiving early childhood education.
As expected, the results of the studies done show that many children, mostly those in underdeveloped areas (not cities) are the ones suffering the most. This means that there must be incentives for them to go to school, as well as easy ways to get to those schools. There may be an increase in the number of schools built in these rural areas, and of course, teachers will be needed in order to staff them. As there are also early childhood education degree programs to train those teachers, people just need to attend them and apply for the jobs.
Another important part of the Kathmandu Statement involves the increased need for the Minister of Education for each country to get involved in order to ensure that these students receive the education that they deserve. While this is easier said than done, it does feel like a solid step in the right direction.
Five Priority Areas to Focus On
There are five main priority areas to focus on when it comes to increasing the number of children in Thailand who receive an early childhood education. These include financing, which is important, because those children need schools to go to that are staffed by well-trained teachers.
On top of that, in some of the more rural areas, kids are needed to help out on the family land or even are sent out to work in order to earn money. This provides little incentive to go to school. Proper financing can change this. Another of the priority areas is educational planning. This means that there will be an increase in the amount of lesson planning and overall curriculum development in order to ensure that those children will receive a good education.
Two of the other areas are equal access for everyone, as well as improvements in quality. These are important. We already stated why some of these children might not be going to school as required. Although the creation of new schools in certain areas will help improve the equal access portion of this goal, the parents of those children need to understand just how important it is that their kids receive an education at this early point. The quality improvements will appear through the enhanced curriculum, better schools, and even well-educated teachers. A combination of these things will certainly help in this case.
Finally, the fifth priority area is monitoring. Monitoring will ensure that all of the required goals are being met and that the children in Thailand are receiving the education that they deserve. This is one of the trickiest things to handle, as there is such as thing as too much testing. The student’s development must be monitored in the best ways possible.
Sustainable Development Goals
It all comes down to understand when brain development begins (at birth) and then developing some sustainable goals to ensure that these children’s development continues as necessary. The five priorities listed will only work if sustainable development goals are in place.
A solid plan needs to be put into place for the construction of new schools and the hiring of new teachers. All of the goals for the new curriculum must be placed on this list as well. Without having a solid plan in place, the odds of these goals being met is slim. The whole idea behind them is the word “sustainable.” This means that the plan is going to continue on into the future.
As a result of this program, early childhood education will hopefully become a priority for all kids in Thailand, not just those in the main cities. The entire region discussed in the Kathmandu Statement – all of the countries involved – will see early childhood education become more of a priority. This can only lead to better-educated citizens for all countries listed, including Thailand.
Author Bio –
This guest article is a contribution of Sven Olsson promoting Wellington College, Thailand.