Top Stories : Remarks by H.E. Mr. Thani Thongphakdi Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Thailand at the Side event on Human Rights Education and Training (HRET): Achievements and Perspectives News

Top Stories : Remarks by H.E. Mr. Thani Thongphakdi Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Thailand at the Side event on Human Rights Education and Training (HRET): Achievements and Perspectives

Madam Chair,

As the newest member of the Platform for Human Rights Education and Training, let me first of all say how pleased I am to take part in this side event, which we believe will help remind all stakeholders of the importance of human rights education and training (HRET) in our effort to promote and protect human rights.

Let me begin by informing you about HRET in Thailand. Since the beginning, we have been proactively implementing the World Programme for Human Rights Education.

In the First Phase, our National Education Act of 1999 and our National Education Scheme from 2002-2016 have served a framework for HRET in Thailand, helping to mainstream human rights education into the entire school system.

In terms of school curricula, human rights content is found in the three main subject areas, namely:

(1) Social, Religion and Culture Subject area – Covering issues related to child rights, definition of human rights, domestic mechanisms, human rights organizations, and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Under this subject area, human rights content is on the rights and responsibilities of a good citizen according to Thai law, traditions and culture.

Under this same theme, the scope of content gradually expands from self and family-centred at the primary school level to a national context in the junior secondary school level and to an international context in the senior secondary school level.

(2) Health and Physical Education Subject area – Covering the topic of consumer rights, and

(3) Occupations and Technologies Subject area – Covering the study of consumer right and the right to work.

Our National Human Rights Plans also help strengthen the implementation of the World Programme for HRET as they set the direction for promoting and protecting human rights for agencies in the country.

The current plan is the Third Plan (2014-2018), which promotes the inclusion of HRET in the human resources development of agencies for officials and employees in order to create awareness of human rights, in issues related to their respective work. 

At the same time, we have conducted activities in conjunction with international organisations, including under the UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network.

Today, there are over 100 schools participating in this project, implementing activities related to UNESCO’s focus issues, i.e. peace and respect for cultural diversity, human rights, and culture, among others.

However, the effectiveness of human rights education in schools is also conditioned upon the understanding, interest and commitment of individual teachers. Here, flexibility is given for individual teachers to devise teaching techniques and include human rights in their teaching.

While most teachers in Thailand merely follow what already exists in the curriculum and standard textbooks, others are more active and engage in creative learning methods.

What is therefore also important is the teachers’ own understanding of human rights which is passed onto students.

Support from the school’s administration is also crucial for the implementation of human rights education in schools, which requires the extra resources and time of teachers, as well as the availability of time, textbooks and other resources. 

A study by the Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Centre found that human rights issues are addressed mainly as part of legal issues and civic education, except the more elaborate parts concerning child rights.

In addition, schools in remote areas would, in general, face difficulties getting enough textbooks for their students.

During the Second Phase of the World Programme, there had been an increase in the number of courses on human rights, both in university law departments and other departments across public and private universities in the Kingdom, both as compulsory and elective courses.

Several universities have also set up centres on human right studies and this is something that we continue to expand and build upon.

We have also prioritised HRET for our civil servants, including in particular our security and law enforcement officers, military and corrections officers so as to sensitize them more about human rights issues as well as what they can and cannot do.

Currently, in the Third Phase which emphasises training for media professionals and journalists, we have seen so far a number of departmental regulations and ethical guidelines formulated, such as those related to broadcasting at the Public Relations Department and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission to ensure that human rights principles are respected, that multi-culturalism is promoted and that hate speech and communications are prevented.

Looking ahead, there remain many challenges.

There is the need for more human rights mainstreaming efforts, complemented with a detailed school curriculum development.

It is crucial to ensure that the curriculum instils human rights values and awareness in addition to substantive human rights learning.

Knowledge on human rights should be simplified with concrete case studies, enabling both teachers and students to understand issues more easily.

Moreover, on the part of the media, the professional ethics of the industry usually clash with the drive to boost ratings, such as when soap operas in Thailand sometimes romanticize violence against women. Thus, a balance has to be struck to shape the right norms for society. Here, self-regulation is key.

Thailand will continue to seek to address these challenges in the years ahead, as we work to implement actions called for in the current and future phases of the World Programmes for HRET.

Thank you.