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You are here: Home About Us The challenges, our guiding principles and objectives

The challenges, our guiding principles and objectives

National development efforts to overcome the chronic poverty of the North-East region of Thailand were severely affected by the 1997 Asian financial crisis. read2.jpgIncreasing labour migration of teenagers and young adults to major urban centres and abroad has left many rural areas and even smaller towns demographically dominated by children and grandparents. Social and cultural dislocation arising from rapid urbanisation and modernisation has dramatically affected traditional values and family cohesion. These socio-economic trends have had particularly damaging impacts on the quality of pre-school care, resulting in children often lacking adequate nurturing and the urgent need throughout communities for increased support for ECD both at home and within the local authority facilities.

Despite an increase in literacy rates up to 97%, Thais in general read for only three minutes a day or only six lines a day, equivalent to five books a year, compared to 17 books in Singapore and 50 in USA. Thai university students read on average only 20 books during the fours years of study compared with 200 books by students in Singapore.

Moreover, Thai society tends to view education only in terms of study in school and university with parents expecting the school to be the source of learning. Government pays little attention to care in early childhood. Budget constraints and attitudes of educators and state officials contribute to poor reading habits nationwide. Libraries are under-funded and the job of a librarian is not deemed a career, with school librarians being mostly language teachers. While educators worldwide are increasingly recognising that the reading habit needs to be instilled in children at a very young age, promoting reading during childhood in Thailand can often mean little more than donating a few books.

ECD is seen by TWA as a vital but neglected aspect of human development that provides the ideal framework for introducing story-telling, familiarity with interactive picture books and early reading within a safe, attentive, stimulating family, community and pre-schooling environment. As defined by UNICEF and as generally accepted internationally, ECD is a comprehensive approach to policies, and programmes for parents, care-givers and teachers that stresses the critical importance of our earliest years in shaping emotional and physical well-being, learning abilities and intellectual growth, thereby protecting the right of the child to develop its full potential. ECD draws on research and practical experience from the fields of health and nutrition, education, community development, social anthropology and economics.

As a mission statement, we at TWA are therefore dedicated to improving the quality of life for children, families and communities in North-East Thailand by awareness-raising, advocacy and direct support for early childhood care and development, working through local authorities and community groups. In doing so we fully recognise the importance of holistic development, integrating Thai values with recent knowledge and information. Our focus area within ECD is the promotion of children’s literature, children and family libraries, the associated training for care-givers and teachers together with advisory services for authors, publishers and national policy-makers.

Proven benefits of this ECD approach which we strive to achieve are: marked  reductions in economic disparities rooted in poverty and social discrimination; strengthened moral and social values;  community and family improvements in health, education, sanitation and nutrition alongside the emergence of leaders and a stronger sense of community; bolstered self-confidence in children, providing the foundation for basic learning and the thirst  for knowledge and open communication.

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