Stop the useless Children's Day slogans

Educator fed up with ineffectual mottos

An education expert has urged the government to change how it celebrates Children's Day.

Instead of just releasing useless slogans, Sompong Jitradub, director of the Research Centre for Children and Youth Development (CYD), suggests implementing policies to solve serious problems affecting Thai youth such as malnutrition, domestic violence and lack of access to education.

Speaking Thursday at a seminar titled "We need policies, not slogans on Children's Day." Mr Sompong suggested the government stop issuing Children's Day mottos that have never helped improve the lives of children.

Instead, Mr Sompong said he wants to see the government focus more on policies that can really ease serious 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 all the same. There are always phrases like 'know your duty,' 'strictly adhere to discipline' and 'love the Thai nation' which are abstract and can't 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. Mr Sompong said this suggests the government thinks Thai children just 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 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 policymaking as children are intelligent enough and have the 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," Mr Sompong said.

He mentioned 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.

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Writer: Gregory Morrissey
Position: S Weekly Sub-editor