Friday, January 7, 2011

Editorial: The country's future belongs to our children


Published on January 8, 2011

Our kids need better education and chances to develop individually, but we still fail to help them succeed

Today is Thai Children's Day, and kids all over the country will be out in full force, celebrating an annual event dedicated especially to them. Many organisations and recreation centres will be putting on shows and entertainment events for kids on this day, which is designed to remind us of the importance of taking care of the younger generation.

Children's Day should also make us aware that we must work harder to nurture good citizens, not only for the nation but also for the world. Kids everywhere should have access to quality education opportunities and a proper health service. They should be able to enjoy living in a clean environment, and their rights should be protected. These basic requirements are essential in bringing up our children well, and enabling them to reach their full potential.

Unfortunately, many of our children have been denied these rights that they are entitled to. Adults have so far failed to adequately address the needs of children in this country. Worse, some adults fail to provide proper protection for children. Many kids these days are exposed to harmful influences, and in the worst cases they suffer abuse and exploitation. Adults have always contributed to these problems either through direct involvement or negligence.

While many children today have access to an overwhelming overload of information through both traditional and new media, they also witness and mimic the negative behaviour of adults, day in and day out.

In our society we now see people more divided than ever before. Those with opposing views no longer bother to try to win arguments through reason. The political and social debates in Thailand are now dominated by emotion; people stick to their own opinions and they cannot be swayed by logic. These kinds of debates further deepen the wounds, without bringing knowledge or wisdom to the table.

Good education is vital in enabling our children to blossom. However, the formulaic school curriculum that we continue to impose on them is ineffective in allowing them to develop their strengths and talents.

There needs to be a new push to teach kids more about our environment and our once-strong community spirit. We must help them understand where they come from and to be proud of their heritage, while also teaching that those who are different, or who hold different views, are not a threat.

Kids should be allowed to grow and develop based on their unique abilities and preferences. In addition to academic necessity, we must enable them to adapt to an ever-changing world that has constantly changing needs and demands. The current education system is not up to this task. Our schools continue to try to fit children into a standard mould. Success is judged by material wealth, not the benefits that they can contribute to their community or society at large through the development of individual talent.

Too many children in the rural areas still struggle to receive decent and accessible education and healthcare. This is not good enough. More needs to be done to ensure that they receive these basic rights. As a result of this failing, many young people still aspire to migrate to the cities instead of working to develop the homes and communities where they grew up. And when it comes to a good and clean environment, we adults continue to exploit the resources that belong to future generations to satisfy our immediate greed.

On this special day, we need to remember that children should have the opportunity to excel in whatever field they wish. How many children today don't have access to facilities where they can develop their interest and skills in such areas as painting, music or sport? All of these activities can instil in kids the merits of hard work and discipline, essential elements in forming them into good, productive members of society.

Ultimately it is parents who are in the best position to raise their children to be responsible citizen who have the potential to develop their strengths. Our children simply need more opportunities to enable them to grow up with dignity and pride.

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January 8, 2011 09:19 am (Thai local time)