UNICEF in Thailand
Striving to Build a Better Future for Every Child for 70 years
There is a saying that “Investing in children is the best investment” as children today are the nation’s future. Despite significant progress that Thailand has made on child development over several decades, rapid social changes now require solid collaboration from all sectors in society more than ever. However, the development cannot solely rely on the assistance or policies issued from the government but also collective efforts from the civil society and private sectors. All sectors need to join hands and head in the same direction in order to make such development more comprehensive and meet the needs of the world, both today and tomorrow.
UNICEF Thailand has strived for children’s rights for over 70 years and together with partners, the organization commemorated this important milestone throughout 2018. Major challenges that the organization strives to address include creating equal access to basic services for children, particularly the vulnerable groups, be they children living in poverty, children in remote areas, migrant children, or children with disabilities. Other challenges include raising the standard of social services for all children, protecting them against violence, and equipping young people with knowledge and skills to help them grow and reach their fullest potential while keeping abreast of change.
UNICEF’s 70th anniversary celebrations were concluded in January at an event titled “A Future for Every Child” jointly hosted by UNICEF Thailand and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Thomas Davin, UNICEF Thailand Representative said at the event, “Considering rapid changes in today’s circumstances, we need to adjust our way of work to respond to new challenges and ensure that children and youth are well prepared for the future. They must have opportunities to learn new skills which enable them to live and work effectively and creatively in the 21st century. Solid collaboration among all sectors, both in planning and solution finding, is the key to providing all children with access to quality services and information which will help them gain knowledge and skills essential to their future growth.”
Mr. Anand Panyarachun, UNICEF Thailand's Goodwill Ambassador, expressed his views on children’s equitable and sustainable access to services. According to Mr. Anand, although the government has introduced the Child Support Grant (CSG) programme to support babies aged 0-3 years with a subsidy of 600 Baht per month being given to poor families, some of those are still excluded from welfare. Furthermore, some children aged 3-6 years do not receive the benefits or any social protection offered by the government. He said that the government should, therefore, employ a more comprehensive and universal Child Support Grant scheme, and a period of which should also be prolonged to up to 6 years. He added that the government should underscore the importance of child health and education, and engage the private sector in strengthening its operations.
To present development-related perspectives of people from all sectors, a seminar titled “Human Resource Development in Thailand: Approaches to Tackling 21st Century Challenges” was held. A number of experts from government agencies, civil society organizations and the private sector were invited to share their views at the seminar. Dr. Sunee Chaiyaros from the College of Social Innovation of Rangsit University remarked on the government’s CSG programme, saying the programme should be carried out in a truly inclusive manner, meaning supporting every child, regardless of their economic background. It should also use the same criteria as old age subsidies or the gold card system to ensure that such support fulfils the entire protection system.
A private sector representative Ms. Sirintra Mongkolnavin, Senior Managing Director Assistant of the Corporate Planning and Sustainable Development Department of Sansiri Public Company Limited, shared her opinions on developing children’s essential life skills for the future. She stated that the education sector should help children improve the skills needed in the workforce in the era of disruption with rapid technological and social changes. These skills consist of creativity, critical thinking which must start from schooling, and communication skills which help facilitate their collaboration. The private sector can work together with the government to be sources of information that boost their understanding both theoretically and practically in everyday life.
Examples of UNICEF Thailand’s concrete efforts in child development include the “Early Moments Matter on Mobile”, a joint project with the Ministry of Public Health. Aiming to constantly inform parents of useful knowledge, EMMM is an information service that provides information on raising a child, such as a practical parenting guide and child development activities, through Facebook Messenger. The service sends useful information during pregnancy until when children reach 6 years old, covering nine topics: 1. Quality of pregnancy 2. Breastfeeding and child nutrition 3. Age-appropriate development 4. Play and stimulation 5. Positive parenting 6. Disease prevention and treatment 7. Safety and injury prevention 8. Hygiene, and 9. Roles of family members. Parents can subscribe to receive free messages by visiting www.facebook.com/9YangTH.
At the end of the event, in which about 200 participants had taken part, a pledge wall was signed to express everyone's commitment to using their networks, knowledge, and resources to contribute to finding and offering solutions to improve the lives of children, and to help realize a better future For Every Child.