May 3, 2019
On the 30th of April and 1st of May there was a two-day workshop presented by Center for Girls (CFG) as a Kindernothilfe funded Programme for the prevention of child trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). This was assembled for some of the youth of the Huai Yen village as well as for their parents. This workshop was meant to engage the youth and their parents on some of the biggest issues surrounding the area: high school dropouts at grade 9 & before grade 12, social media safety, and teenage pregnancy. These are issues that groups like Center for Girls have noticed are continuing to be a major issue for the Northern Thai border province.
Bangkok News’ 2016 article in regards to high school dropouts states: “According to the ministry, 32,799 students left school before duly graduating in 2012, 12,165 in 2013 and 8,814 in 2014. Of the 2014 figure, 1,760 were in primary education, 4,290 in lower secondary, and 2,764 in upper secondary education. Some of the reasons given for why students dropped out included parents moving the family to pursue new job opportunities; students leaving to raise a child following an unplanned pregnancy; criminal behaviour that resulted in students facing charges or being sent to juvenile detention facilities.”*
Although this information is 5 years old, it is still relevant today as it illustrates the country’s ongoing struggle with these issues. This event was a way to attempt to present the issues to parents because when you become aware of an issue you can tackle it head on and correct the problem.
There were 50 participants in attendance, half of whom were children, and the other half their mothers. As a result, we had a wonderful opportunity to see the younger generation interacting with and helping the older generation. It took icebreaker games played to get the children and their parents loosened up and ready to participate in the day. Relaxing into the day’s scheduled succession of topics was the intro to talking subjects far more complex than the kids typically spoke about, especially with their parents.
Participants were asked to draw a version of themselves then include what makes them proud, what they want to be when they grow up, and what they look forward to in the future. A few students had an opportunity to present their drawings and answers, which caused a roar of laughter from the students as one of the boys explained he foresees himself as a “supermodel in the future.”
The students, as well as the parents, then created the “problem tree,” which was also discussed in our blog last month. The tree exercise allows the person constructing the tree to assess a major problem and explore the causes/effects of an issue within the community. The four groups were tasked with exploring 4 major issues: high school dropouts at grade 9, high school dropouts before grade graduation, teenage pregnancy, and social media safety. The fourth category is especially important, as this was not an issue the parents had to deal with growing up because there was no social media available. As these are big issues, the groups took the remaining part of the first day to explore them when they presented their work at the end of the day in preparation for the second day’s “solution tree.”
This workshop was a chance, also, for the parents to hear how the children respond to their view of social media safety and the other taboo subjects. P’Loy, P’Pan, and the other leaders of the workshop were able to create a platform for children and their parents to come together and talk about subjects that are sometimes hard to talk about in the home. Many subjects, especially in Thai culture, are difficult to openly talk about, so it is incredibly beneficial when groups like Center for Girls and Khiang Rim Khong (KRK) help lead important discussions.
“…the leaders of the workshop were able to create a platform for children and their parents to come together and talk about subjects that are sometimes hard to talk about in the home.”
This workshop, being as impactful as it is, will be taken to other villages in the area to continue creating a safe space to discuss these tough topics. The next workshop will be the weekend of May 3-May 5 in a village not too far from CFG’s headquarters in Chiang Khong.