NiE takes off in Thailand

Who would pay 1,000 baht (RM97) for a four-page “newspaper” produced by a primary school pupil? The honour went to none other than Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra! 

The Thai Rath Wattaya 75 primary school managed to sell a copy of their pupil's work to the VIP when he visited the school in September. And the woman behind both the school newspaper project and the sale of the paper was teacher Jira Jitcharnvichai, the project advisor. 

“The children spend about two hours a week to produce a weekly school newspaper. They enjoy doing it although it's pretty hard work,'' says Jira. 

She is one of the 40 Thai teachers, journalists and newspaper publishers who were in Bangkok last month to attend the NIE Start Seminar Thailand Program organised by Press Council of Thailand and the Press Development Institute of Thailand (PDIT) with the support of the World Association of Newspapers. 

Thai teachers (from left) Jira, Natnarin Chandawong, Teraporn Uttarube and WilawanAdisakdacha are glad to have attended the first official NiE seminar in Bangkok and have the certificate of attendance to prove it.

Jira and several others were surprised to learn that what they had been doing in school by encouraging children to learn from the newspaper was what Newspaper in Education (NiE) was all about. 

She and her colleagues say they were excited to have gained an insight into what the NiE programme was all about from Norway's NiE specialist Jan Vincens Steens and The Star's Education senior editor Leanne Goh. The two were invited by the Council to share how the newspaper could be used as a rich teaching resource and about NiE projects all over the world. 

“I've learnt many activities that I can bring back and use in my school. I'm inspired by the range of things we can do with the newspaper to teach and at the same time make the learning fun,'' says Jira. 

Anurak Rachanirom, editor of Siang Sarika in Nakarnnayok province is equally excited to discover that there is a generic “name” to the newspaper activities he has been working on with schools and that there is a global network for NiE for support and ideas.  

He says the students he has been working with have been complaining about how serious their school newspaper project is and he can now inject some fun elements into the NiE activities too.  

However, most of the participants, mainly Thai language teachers, were new to NiE and are now keen to have it incorporated into their teaching. 

Among the proposals they came up with at the end of the three-day seminar were for the Council to convince the Government of the advantages of doing NiE in schools and subsequently for the authorities to direct schools to introduce it. 

They suggested, among others, that an NiE guidebook be drawn up and teachers be trained to conduct classes with the use of the newspaper. 

Secretary-general of the press council Chavarong Limpattamapanee told the participants that he would bring their proposals to the council and the board of the PDIT. He urged some of the participants to volunteer their services to form a committee as well as to be the NiE trainers.  

Chavarong, who was the main organiser of the event, added that it was good to see that the initial session to introduce NiE to Thai teachers had been well received. – BY LEANNE G0H 

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