An education expert has urged the government to amend how it celebrates Children’s Day by implementing policies to solve serious problems affecting Thai youth such as malnutrition, domestic violence and lack of access to education. He says these would be preferable to merely releasing useless slogans.
Speaking Thursday at a seminar titled “We need policies, not slogans on Children’s Day”, Sompong Jitradub, director of the Research Centre for Children and Youth Development (CYD), suggested the government stop issuing Children’s Day mottos that have never helped improve the lives of children.
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Instead, Mr Sompong said he wants to see the government focus more on policies that can really ease chronic problems.
“Our prime ministers have issued slogans on Children’s Day every year since 1956, but if you look at these mottos, they are almost the same. There are always phrases like ‘know your duty’, ‘strictly adhere to discipline’ and ‘love the Thai nation’ which are truly abstract and cannot solve real problems,” he said.
According to the CYD, out of 61 Children’s Day mottos adopted since 1956, the phrase “strictly adhere to discipline” appears 18 times, while the phrases “love the nation”, “have morality”, “work hard” and “unity and honesty” were in slogans 17 times, 15 times, 11 times and nine times, respectively. He said this suggests the government thinks Thai children are just children that need to be told what to do and how to behave.
“Over the last 61 years, we have had 11 prime ministers from military or police backgrounds, who altogether have controlled the country for 41 years. This may be the reason why the word ‘democracy’ has only appeared in Children’s Day mottos four times,” Mr Sompong said.
He also urged the government to encourage children to participate in policy-making as children are competent enough and have an inherent right and capability to contribute to decisions that affect their lives, according to Section 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Children’s voices matter, and when they speak, we need to listen to them. Not only will we better understand the issues and the challenges that children face, but by working with children and young people and nurturing their voices and abilities, we can co-create solutions. We need their participation on the journey to a better future,” Mr Sompong said.
He cited Sweden and Germany where children are allowed to give opinions in parliament and where their views and ideas can be turned into reality as examples to follow.
“On Children’s Day in Canada, members of parliament visit schools to meet children and listen to them for an hour, so they can understand their needs,” he added.
Mr Sompong also called on the government to end problems related to children such as malnutrition, domestic violence, lack of access to education and a high dropout rate as these problem are still severe.