ActionAid Thailand 2018 Annual Report

ActionAid Thailand 2018 Annual Report

This report is the story ActionAid Thailand’s year in 2018. It shows our human rights-based approach to development and the progress we’ve made in our three programme priorities – the story of how we strengthen small schools and advocate for the right to education, how we work with the government and public in campaigns and policy advocacy work on gender equality and the right to safe cities for women. It also shows how we support landless and land-poor communities to secure their rights to land and natural resources, and the global efforts to tackle climate justice and bring about climate justice.

In here you will also find our audited accounts, ensuring that we remain transparent and accountable to the poor and excluded people that we work with as well as our partners, supporters, donors and all other relevant stakeholders.

Download the 2018 Annual Report


Opinion: National Ed Expo and the new Education Act

The National Ed Expo: Rally for Better Quality of Education took place on 26-27 August 2019 at the Berkeley Hotel Pratunam, Bangkok. The two-day event organised by the Office of the Education Council displayed informative exhibits and brought together academics, educators, policy makers and stakeholders from around the country.

An array of topics were discussed, like a national education reform that touches on many policies and laws, from Thailand’s 20-Year National Strategy, the National Economic and Social Development Plan, to the new National Education Act, of which the draft is being reviewed and presented for public opinion before it enters the legislative procedure. Also brought up for debate was the issue of disparity and inequality in education, the 2018 National Education Standards – approved by the cabinet on 2 October 2018 – and the teaching of coding as a third language in schools.

We would like to commend those who are working and devoting their best efforts to improve the Thai education system. Being part of the discussions of academics, educators and other stakeholders, we saw that every group wishes to make Thailand’s human resource development rival that of other countries, and make the education system more decentralised, empowering schools, communities and local authorities to manage local schools more independently while respecting and prioritising pupils’ diversity. The fact that these goalposts are established in the new National Education Act draft shows that Thailand’s education law is by no means moving backwards, but slowly advancing and redistributing power and ownership to the people.

The worrying concern – and something that the participants should reflect on after this – is perhaps the understanding, interpretation and actual practice of these ambitions. Because even though the current National Education Act does support decentralised education management, the reality we have seen paints a complex picture. Policy implementation has proven rocky in practice. Resource allocation, for instance, remains unequal and innovative classroom teaching has been overlooked. It is, then, vital that the government works to ensure equality and equity in education management, especially when Thailand has adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals alongside other member states of the United Nations. 2030 is critically a little over 10 years away.

Education is a chronic condition that Thailand has long endured and no cabinet has been able to prescribe the right remedy for, much less cure successfully. Each administration would implement their brand-new policy, rendering more than 300,000 teachers a variable in an experiment while more than 6 million children the human guinea pigs. When a proposed antidote does not work, a new one is concocted. The cycle continues.

 

Opinion: National Ed Expo and the new Education Act พ.ร.บ.ฉบับใหม่ และสภาพการศึกษาไทย: มุมมองคนนอกจากมหกรรมการศึกษาแห่งชาติ
Photo: Burassakorn Gitipotnopparat / ActionAid

 

Our hope is to see policy makers, adults with decision-making powers, see the center their work on children and respect their human rights and dignity. And these children are not only those in urban areas but also more than 1.2 million of their peers in rural small schools. The adults need to take into account the latter’s varying social, cultural and economic contexts. If at the heart of education is the full development of the human personality that will go on to drive the future of the country, we must not neglect equal and equitable access to it in the first place. We, as a society, must not fail to question public education policies. Are our government’s efforts just and for the benefit of all people?

For that reason, the National Education Act draft is not merely a new education law waiting to pass but an essential framework for the future of Thailand, one of which we are all stakeholders. It is important that we understand what and where it will lead to and voice our opinions. Because sooner or later, its impact will reach us, directly or otherwise.

 

Read the draft of the new National Education Act and give your opinion at the following links.

➡️ National Education Act draft http://bit.ly/2zvqlhy

➡️ Opinion form http://bit.ly/34cml3B


Problem-Based Learning: What This School in Rural Thailand Is Getting Right

Problem-Based Learning: What This School in Rural Thailand Is Getting Right

About two hours’ drive northwest of Bangkok, a small farming community in the Kampangsaen district of Thailand is making huge strides to develop young people. Led by Mrs. Pichsinee Cheunchoowong, Baan Huai Rang Ket Primary School is piloting a cutting-edge program that challenges traditional methods of teaching.

Situated in a rural setting, the program is implementing an innovative educational technique called “problem-based learning.” It uses a social and emotional learning curriculum that prioritizes developing empathy, forming and maintaining positive relationships, and building pragmatic skills as well as decision-making abilities. Students are held to individually established, high expectations both on emotional and academic levels, and they are encouraged to pay attention to their attitudes toward themselves, their peers, and the learning process.

With the guidance and facilitation of their teachers, students also have opportunities to come up with solutions for issues they face in their communities. They are encouraged to think outside the box and express their ideas and imaginations.

 

Problem-Based Learning: What This School in Rural Thailand Is Getting Right
Photo: Meredith Slater / ActionAid

 

A typical day at the school begins with a morning reflection, a key component of the program. The students and teachers sit together in a circle and take time to quiet their minds, share their feelings, and prepare for the day. Everyone sits on the ground – all at the same level – as a physical symbol of the intention that there is no hierarchy within these circles. This simple act helps students let go of anything weighing on them – the morning’s chores, troubles at home – and learn that their school can be a safe space.

 

Problem-Based Learning: What This School in Rural Thailand Is Getting Right
Photo: Meredith Slater / ActionAid

 

The morning reflection prepares students for their day of integrated learning, which combines hard sciences with social sciences using interactive methods. Instead of splitting lessons into eight subjects, as is done traditionally in Thailand, classes are structured into broader, activity-based units. Combining a wide range of tools from storyboards to the internet, teachers use project-based learning to keep students engaged and teach them skills they can use even when they’re not at school.

The culinary unit, for example, incorporates resources children bring in from their farms at home – eggs, milk, sugarcane, lemongrass, corn – and teaches them how to cook with those ingredients, while simultaneously incorporating the arts, English language instruction, and mathematics into the lesson. For instance, students draw up plans for the unit, practice the English names of foods, and lean about measurements, all while cooking a delicious meal that they’ll get to share.

Extending the reach of this lesson beyond the walls of the school, children go home excited to cook with their families. Especially for those who experience difficulties at home, cooking can be a way for students to connect with their parents. This is just one of the many ways the program is helping to build stronger home lives and enhance valuable skills within the broader community.

 

Problem-Based Learning: What This School in Rural Thailand Is Getting Right
Photo: Meredith Slater / ActionAid

 

As with so many projects supported by ActionAid, this one is spearheaded by a local changemaker who has dedicated herself to making a difference in her community. During my visit, I had the opportunity to meet with Principal Cheunchoowong at the school and learn about her drive toward innovation. It hasn’t been easy pulling her school out of the one-size-fits-all curriculum implemented in most schools. Besides dealing with pushback from parents and teachers, she might face repercussions down the road for not using the national curriculum.

In spite of these challenges, Mrs. Cheunchoowong is determined to make sure that young people have the space to learn in a positive, flexible environment. In partnership with a local education group, a nearby university, and ActionAid, Principal Cheunchoowong is successfully piloting a program that she hopes will spread not only to other primary schools within Thailand, but also to schools around the world.

 

Photo: Meredith Slater / ActionAid

 

Sustainability is the next big challenge Mrs. Cheunchoowong will tackle. She recognizes that without her at the helm, continuously pushing the envelope of this curriculum, it would likely not move forward. Mrs. Cheunchoowong is working alongside teachers and parents to build a community dedicated to this rights-based method of educating children. With her continued leadership, the support of the community, and their ongoing partnership with ActionAid, this curriculum can become a reality for students across Thailand.

 

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Written by ActionAid USA Director of Development Meredith Slater, this story is originally published on ActionAid USA.