When Nung Ning of Wat Bang Khu Wat School first became involved in the Thaibev Leadership for a Better Quality of Life project, she was a little apprehensive. At the time of joining the program, just two years ago, she said, “I admit that I am not confident in front of a crowd of people. It is very difficult for me.”
Nung Ning comes from a single-parent family; her mother works six days a week in a factory to make ends meet, while she lives with her aunt most of the time. Many young people in Thailand face similar problems, as the country struggles to come to terms with rapid modernization and industrialization. Such situations can create a highly destabilized environment for youth development, and school work often suffers.
Nung Ning was among 130 young people, who were selected to participate in the project, many coming from similar family backgrounds.
The project, designed and run by Kenan, focuses on supporting youth to identify and solve community problems, through training and development, while exposing the youth to different points of view. The youth-led community activities gave Nung Ning and her peers the opportunity to observe challenges in their own community and create a platform to brainstorm rational solutions, guided by technical experts. This empowered the youth to become change agents in Bang Khuwat, as they connected the dots in their communities and worked with other community leaders to address challenges. Nung Ning and the participants became more active at school, as they embraced the possibility of pursuing higher education. In other words, they became able to visualize a better world.
“Nung Ning has matured over the past two years. She has built confidence and is in a better place to overcome her fears. She is now outstanding and shining in her own way. Her achievement is beyond my expectation,” one of the teachers at her school mentioned. Nung Ning went on to join a Youth Club sponsored by the project, where she was able to share her ideas for community improvement. She then initiated a fundraising project for disadvantaged youth in the area, selling Bang Khuwat t-shirts at the local market. This hands-on experience aided the development of her communication skills and helped build her confidence. With her newfound skills and project success, she shared the story with the media, and was able to update Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on the project’s progress to date.
Nung Ning’s story after having participated in project-based learning (PBL) is of no surprise to scholars and policy makers. The PBL approach has gained recognition from many teachers and works on a range of subjects, building research skills, enhancing creativity, and nurturing students to confront and address real-world problems.
The Kenan approach to youth leadership development is aligned with education reform in Thailand: reducing classroom hours, while increasing knowledge. The reformation aims to foster independent thinking, enhance working and living skills, to build the capacity of youth to solve problems autonomously and take responsibility for their decisions. These attributes will foster innovation among young people, which is one of the goals of the program.
The approach of the ThaiBev Leadership for a Better Quality of Life project has gained national recognition, receiving a Bronze Award in the national ‘One School One Innovation’ contest by the Teachers’ Council of Thailand.