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You are here: Home About Us What we do and how we do it

What we do and how we do it

DSCF7236.jpgThe first years after the formation of TWA saw us involved in the continuation and handing over of the previously-initiated education and livelihood projects in hill tribe villages and in poor urban and rural communities. Valuable lessons were learnt and carefully documented. At the same time, intensive field surveys, needs assessments and pilot pre-school training activities were carried out in and around Khon Kaen. Starting from 1998 these preparatory initiatives were instrumental in building the theoretical and operational foundation for TWA’s work over the next eight years - leading up to our present comprehensive programme with its focus on reading-based ECD.

In 2006 we established our permanent base on a large site with secure long-term tenure on the outskirts of Khon Kaen city. This followed periods in two former locations also in this city, moving as and when our activities expanded. Our new base serves as the home for the recently conceived TWA Resource Centre for Reading- Based Early Child Development, or CRED for short, which grew out of and incorporates our vision for a form of multi purpose child-centred Book Park. On the CRED site we now already have our fully functioning TWA administration office, the model children and family library, the first stage of the training facilities and the central book and equipment storage. The model library, which transplants the earlier TWA service in Khon Kaen to the new site, builds on our previous pioneering experiences and serves as both an openly accessible public facility and as a demonstration/training resource. We are now in the advanced planning stage for the incremental full development of CRED which will not only be a venue for children and their families to spend leisure time in story-telling, reading, playing and interacting. It will also be a centre for the development of children’s literature, training, information exchange and nationwide dissemination - involving workshops, seminars, concerts and learning camps. The site is large enough for short-term accommodation for participants, sports areas, playgrounds and home-grown food production - as a contribution to self-sufficiency we are already establishing extensive vegetable gardens, a plant nursery and fish ponds.

Our vision and the means for putting our ideas into practice through the TWA work programme have not been developed in isolation. They have arisen from a participatory approach involving continuing consultation with our wide range of partners in order to fully understand needs and priorities, linked  to  a process of leaning-by-doing  and adjustments based on both internal and external evaluation.

Working out of our base in CRED, our evolving programme is roughly divided between centralised resource and administration services and outreach support activities. Over the years since we began, the TWA resource delivery side of our work programme has included the following activities which have served as a campaign to explain, publicise, promote, demonstrate and practice reading-based ECD:

Publications

A subscription-free, bi-monthly newsletter, titled Dek Tai, is another tool used in our campaign to raise public awareness. In addition to serving as a forum for
.jpgvoicing TWA’s technical/professional views, the newsletters serve as a means for communication among all the various actors, including donors. Whereas the radio programmes only had an audience in and around Khon Kaen province and the seminars were mainly restricted  to local participation, the newsletters reach other parts of the whole country. Demand for some issues has risen to 8,000 copies and these are in turn passed around to a even more extensive range of readers. Contents cover the following themes:

- opinions and viewpoints of academics, writers, and ECD activists

- interviews of  ECD activists, field workers, parents, and community members

- movements in the writing and printing circles and among those interested in reading and books for

children

- movements and events in TWA, children’s libraries, child development centers, and communities

- tips, brief features, information, and new issues in ECD

- introduction of new books

- cartoons with selected ECD contents aimed at parents and teachers

An outstanding feature is that each issue is also a piece of art which is printed on quality paper with bright colours, a well-designed lay-out. Covers are  drawn and painted without remuneration by well-known Thai artists and illustrators of children’s books.

Training  and policy development

TWA has organized ECD training workshops, covering a variety of government agencies but focusing mainly on those in the education and health fields, particularly teachers, health officers, and members of  the Tambon Administrative Organizations (TAO) who are responsible for early childhood education.   Subjects of the training courses included the following:

TWA Training- using stories for children’s integrated learning

- Thai language and telling stories

- songs and games for children

- art for kindergarten and fun stories

- networks of community learning based on stories for children

One aim of conducting training for the government sector was to promote the knowledge and  appreciation among relevant agencies of  the key concepts as ECD, while the other was to use training as the tool for development of government officers’ attitudes and capacities in ECD work.  Over the years, TWA conducted the workshops for provincial education authorities, the Khon Kaen Municipal, the Department of Community Development, the TAOs from Surin Province, District primary education officers and personnel of the Ministry of Public Health. In addition to conducting training for the government sector, TWA also conducted ECD workshops for NGOs, particularly Plan International

TWA’s senior staff have been invited to speak and share ideas on concepts and methods on reading promotion and reading to young children throughout high-level meetings conducted by various government agencies and national-level businesses with interests in these issues. These opportunities allowed TWA to participate in and contribute to the shaping of related policies in a significant way.

So far, approximately 17,000 teachers, 1,000 Health and Admin personnel and  3,000 board members, plus over 150,000 Educators and Care-givers have attended training on promoting reading.

Children and Family Library

The Children and Family Library was first established in 2000 at TWA’s original office in Khon Kaen then moving to the second office and is now finally based DSCF6504_1.jpgin the current CRED site as a key element of the TWA  resource centre. It served as a pioneering model and demonstration for the replication of such facilities as part of the TWA subsequent support programme and also provided a much-needed and well-used public service. In the beginning, the Library only had 200 children’s books, but by 2010 housed about 20,000 books with about 3,000 memberships of children and parents. More than 60% of the books in the library are picture books for young children, and the rest are  books for older children and youth, reference books for parents (covering such topics as knowledge about children’s developmental stages and different aspects of children’s development, nutrition for children, child care guidelines), and other books and magazines.

A key lesson learned from this initiative was that just giving books to the government’s child development centers (CDCs) had little benefit without associated training for teachers and care-givers. in related skills such as how to read to young children, how to organise follow-up activities after reading, how to work with parents, how to make simple but creative toys for young children, how to repair books, how to set up an effective book loan initiative at the CDC, and how to promote circulation of books among a cluster of CDCs in the same zone.  This Children and Family Library therefore acts as the laboratory for developing the most suitable model for activities before we start introducing them in the training for the CDC teachers.  Particularly during the early phase of our work from 1999-2001, when we were  searching for our own stand on ECD and developing effective models for working with young children, this laboratory played a prominent role.  In fact it could be considered the most important component of all TWA’s work as it was the source of experimenting and developing all models of interventions Even later when emphasis is more on expanding our work, we find we still need to consolidate and refine our expertise in various areas of reading-based ECD.  It is also used as the venue for TWA to select and test new books to be used in the other children’s libraries.

Story Books for Rural Young

This began with the realisation among TWA staff and Board members that they were all educators who had a common habit of telling and reading stories to their own children and, witnessing the effects of this  practice, believed that other children should have access to the same benefits. As early as 1999, we had already started to make efforts to read story books to children in different places. The CDCs were soon identified as possible permanent sites where such reading sessions could take place. At the beginning of 2001, the pilot project started working with a number of CDCs, with the aim of introducing specially-selected books to young children in rural communities.  This resource activity  started with 1,404 books (97 titles in multiple copies) which were classified into two categories - books which were considered “core” books which were to be available at each CDC at all times and other  books which did not have to DSCF0053_1.jpgbeavailable all the time so they were divided into multiple sets for rotation among the participating CDCs.   Eighteen CDCs were identified for this pilot phase, based on two criteria: that there was a great need for the CDC to be strengthened, and that the community stakeholders, such as CDC teachers, religious leaders and community leaders, could work together among themselves. Training was provided to the CDC teachers, focusing on getting the teachers to familiarise themselves with the “core” books so that they would learn how to use them and talk with children about them, how to analyse the books and explore various issues contained in the books, and how to supplement reading of the books with creative activities to be conducted with the children.  Follow-up after the training and a period of implementation suggested, however, that the initiative was highly effective in only a few of the locations because of lack of genuine interest among the CDC teachers and community leaders, With these partial disappointing results, we decided to recall all books from the CDCs which did not perform well, using the excuse that the books were in poor conditions and needed to be repaired.  But when we went to take the books back, the children cried after the books even in those CDCs where we found that the teachers and the communities did not really care much.  So we decided to return the books to the children after repairing them. From this pilot initiative, the lesson learned was that a number of conditions were necessary for making an effective programme:

- carefully-selected books

- training provided to CDC teachers and care-givers, or whoever will provide the service, so that they understand

thoroughly how to do so, because giving books alone is not enough

-  well-designed training which is fun for participants

-  good management.

Building on this pilot experience, 140 CDC in two provinces are now benefiting from the Story Book resource project.

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Our parallel outreach support programme focuses on empowering the community, assisting in the development of the CDCs and in establishing the community Children’s Libraries. It also targets specific local institutions, including primary schools and municipalities in an intensive collaborative partnership arrangement. From the TWA side this usually involves for all our outreach partners the provision of management and organisational support, technical advice, on-the-job training, capacity-building and the provision of books and equipment  alongside matching contributions from the side of our partners usually covering building construction, salaries, maintenance and running costs. The overall approaches thereby mobilises available local resources, encourage cooperation between parties and strengthens relationships between communities, the CDCs and local government. The main components of this programme are as follows:

Development of Child Development Centers (CDC)

These centres are currently under the responsibility of the TAO level of local government. However, some were formerly under the care of either the Department of Religion, the Department of Community Development or the Department of Mental Health. Therefore, when we started they were at different developmental stages, received different levels of support from their respective departments, had different needs and varied in receptivity to new ways of thinking and working.  In order to provide assistance, TWA was therefore had to understand the different natures of these CDCs and to adapt approaches accordingly.  Entry points had to respond to specific needs in order to build trust and understanding. During 1999 these TWA introductory actions covered basic necessities such as playground equipment and clean drinking water. This was then followed by the supply of children’s books and capacity-building for the teachers and the parents.

INathorng5.jpgn 2000, we wrote to the CDCs, inviting the teachers to attend training about reading to young children. At the end of the training, the participants received a stack of selected children’s books. That initial training was the first capacity-building activity that made a difference for many CDC teachers and marked the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship between TWA and these teachers. Some teachers also took initiatives to read to parents in addition to the children. It turned out that the parents appreciated the experience very much and said they had never thought listening to someone reading stories could be so enjoyable. After that many of the parents started to read books to their children at home as well.

Another important TWA initiative was the evaluation form, completed by the teachers/child-carers. This included questions on how the teachers put to use what they had learned from training courses, such as telling stories and reading books to the children, what the outcomes and impacts were on the children and on the teachers themselves, what else the teachers wanted TWA to do.

The first community children’s Library was established in Kosum Pisai district in 2001.  It was followed by one library after another in different districts.  Each library has the space of about 16 sq. metres adjacent to the CDC building. Some do not charge a library subscription fee from the children or family, while others charge fees of no more 20 Baht (USD 40m cents) per person per month.

The children’s libraries were an instant hit in all locations. The Po Klang library, for instance, grew from having a small number of books to 1,700 books with an impressive record of around 3,000 books borrowed in one year, or an average of more than 20 books each and every day, while the Ban Muang library had children borrowing around 8,000 books in only four and a half months. After the success of these community children's libraries in Khon Kaen province, we received financial assistance from the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Thailand, to provide technical and administrative assistance for children's libraries in a neighbouring province. Then In 2003 we received a grant from the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (THPF) for a three year project to replicate the model in yet another district.

The TWA concept of having a children’s library serving a cluster of CDCs/communities has proven to be both socially acceptable and practical. In addition to serving the CDC to which it is attached as an aid for the teachers, a lending library and a place for the children to play and learn, the children’s libraries also supply recirculating packs of books to CDCs in the neighgbouring villages.

We have also helped the city of Khon Kaen establish municipal children’s libraries serving children of all ages from the general public and have worked closely with government schools in assisting the establishment, improvement and management of  their libraries including teacher training  and book supply.

Educational Project for  Children Affected by  Tsunami in the South of Thailand.

In response to the devastating destruction and tragic socio-economic impacts of the December  2004 Tsunami, we  took the initiative to apply our ECD, DSCF2549.jpgchildren’s library and community empowerment experience to some of the worst-hit communities.  TWA was also highly active in local, national and international resource mobilisation, including a major contribution from SOS Enfants sans Frontieres and Ragnar's Care Foundation for which TWA acts as  the executing agency. The project covers the construction, equipping, book supply and teacher/child carer training for five community children’s libraries and for a municipal library which will also rotate books around seven primary schools.  Accompanying services include a mobile library and a motorcycle-taxi  savings group. Our reading-based ECD and our approach to school libraries are proving to have significant therapeutic and healing impacts  for the children, parents and the community as a whole, leading to comprehensive rehabilitation and the return to a


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