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VENUS VISION

A sincere letter to Thailand's future generation

Dear Children,



I suppose I am to wish you all a "Happy Children's Day", though maybe it's a better idea to write you an honest letter on this special occasion.

Have any of you ever wondered why we mark this day as National Children's Day every year? Well, you won't be alone if you don't know. Like you guys, I thought the day was created so we could claim our rights to unwrap another gift shortly after New Year. To most kids, it was a day meant for visiting restricted government places like the Air Force, the Navy Base or even the Prime Minister's Office.

Besides, that note from your prime minister sounds so nice, even though it becomes a bit of a pain when your teacher quizzes you about it in a sociology class.

Except for the larger-scale celebrations, I can't see how today's celebration differs from the ones my pals and I experienced while we were young. Don't you think that you guys are fortunate enough to have one day out of the 365 other days when people just think about you and you alone?

My dear children, get a fact straight: you are never forgotten. You have probably heard that touching piece of rhetoric: "Children are our future." Now, this isn't repeated because it is handy, especially for politicians, but because it is immortal.

You're the future of every government - I was too - so you can rest assured that as soon as they find some time from fighting each other for money and power, they probably spend some time thinking of you. I know this is difficult to believe, but believe me, as soon as something is branded as "future", it means it can be coped with later.

Still, thinking positive is the key. I shall give you an example: you'll be relieved to know that you are not the only one in your family to be bored with Thailand's outdated schooling system. The other day I took a peek at my daughter's history textbook, and it felt like a flashback to my days in school, except this time it was printed on better-quality paper. Perhaps I am too optimistic to believe that the Education Ministry would care to update the textbooks and add the new discoveries and theories about our past.

Put it this way: the Thai schooling system teaches kids to become superhuman in the future because, as soon as you leave school, you realise that nothing you have ever learned is much use in the real world. Isn't it magical that the Education Ministry has been able to come up with a learning system that it believes will last a lifetime? Believe me, you have so many more lessons to learn after you leave school.

So, here is my sincerest advice for the time being: never ever let your thinking go beyond the textbook.

Don't be fooled by phrases like "think outside the box" and "child-centred learning" that exist in the government's promotional materials. Just follow what the textbook says and never argue with your teacher, and your grades will be taken care of.

If you wonder why no one has revamped our education system yet, it is probably because no one up there sees that there is a problem. Politicians from all parties send their offspring to prestigious international schools, either here or abroad. Obviously, the problem is solved for them.

Don't you miss Uncle Thaksin Shinawatra and his "one child, one laptop" project? Just forget about it, because Uncle will not be returning any time soon. But don't despair, because the ruling Democrat Party is attempting to outdo Uncle Thaksin by announcing a plan to sponsor school fees for 15 years. That should cover 13 million kids, and I hope you are one of that fortunate lot. Erm, I mean your parents.

You certainly fancy something more exciting instead of being given things that adults love. Maybe you want proper sex education, like the sort taught in international schools but there is no such course; all you can find are video clips.

Still, there is a glimmer of hope. It seems all Bangkok governor candidates see the problem of inadequate parks and playgrounds for you guys. But the problem is, will you guys really have the time to go to those places after your teachers have bombarded you with homework? Will you have time to play after you've spent hours getting tutored?

Life hasn't changed much, has it? No wonder I still feel like a kid.

All the best,

An erstwhile child

PS: JUST REMEMBER: "ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU; ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY."


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