Explore the World to Determine Their Own Futures

“I just know that if he wanted to join the astronomy activity, he must be able to join.”

When talking about helping this student, his determination stood out. His student wanted to participate in a rarely-organised astronomy event, and participating in this activity required a certain amount of funds, so he spread the words among his friends, all were fellows of Teach For Thailand, and then collected some funds to join with the school's funding. Finally, Pun, his student, was able to attend that event.

“Thai Children and the Problem of Determining Their Own Future”

    This teacher’s name is Pu, Suwanna Jamnakwong, a fellow at Teach for Thailand, cohort 6. He has spent 2 years working as a science and technology teacher at Prongmadua Wittayakom School, Nakhon Pathom Province. While teaching there, he has organized many projects that help students find themselves and learn about life paths after graduation. One of the reasons why Pu pays attention to this issue may be due to the context of children in various areas that Pu has learned about.

     Pu was inspired to apply for Teach For Thailand fellowship by the problems faced by youth she met in many volunteer camps.. While studying at the university, Pu volunteered at many camps in various locations and noticed that children in some areas were underdeveloped in their potential. These children were unable to determine a future that is different from their original family background.

     “I have gone to camps in many places. It can be said that if there are 77 provinces in Thailand, I have been to at least half of them. Once I went to Phang Nga, I talked to one of the youngsters and asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said he wanted to be a fisherman, and when I asked why, he said it was because he saw his parents doing it.”

     “When I kept asking, I found that more than 70% of the children wanted to be fishermen because they saw their parents doing it. I wondered why it was like that until I became a volunteer teacher at Saturday School.”

     “This time, I met the children in the city but found that their context was similar to that of children in other provinces. That is, even near the city, if the children don’t receive enough  attention, they cannot grow in the way they should be.”

“Finding Themselves to Help Shape Their Future”

     Prongmadua Wittayakom School, where Pu has taught, is a medium-sized school in the sub-district. Although not far from Bangkok, most of the students’ parents immigrate to work, causing frequent changes in the living locations. Many students stay at school for a short time, resulting in continuity problems in their studies. During his time there, Pu has created 3 career guidance projects for students:

  • The Online Careers Guidance for Youth Project was an introduction to students about the profession of a tutor and online sales. As a result, some students used their knowledge to help their families switch from selling products at the store to online, and were able to increase their family income.
  • The Online Business Internship Project aimed to help students who were soon to be out of the education system and the lack of funds. Therefore, Pu trained 30 students to develop online content writing, online marketing, and online sales skills. Students were able to use the skills learned to work with real entrepreneurs.
  • The Finding Identity Through Business Project helped young people find themselves by learning about running a coffee shop.

     In doing these projects, Pu placed importance on having students reflect and take lessons from the activities they attended. He said, “Before coming to Teach For Thailand, I never knew how to reflect and learn from the lessons. But now that I am here, I know how to enable learning, which is very helpful.”

     Among the students Pu interacted with, Pun was one of the most prominent. He shared his impression about Pu, saying, “Studying with Pu made me go out and meet more people in the communities. Talking to Pu makes me gain a new perspective from someone close to me. He’s closer than other teachers because his age is closer to mine than other teachers..”

     “Pu always spreads the news about good projects and activities. If I am interested, I can join. I’ve tried many things, such as making music with the Today at Apple Creative Studios Bangkok project. It was the activity from the collaboration of Saturday School, Apple, Universal Music, What The Duck, Hypetrain, and Cat Radio. I also went to the National Stargazing Camp at the Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand in Chiang Mai Province.”

     Pun’s mother said that Pu helped her and Pun communicate more clearly. He is like an intermediary that coordinates between students and parents.

     “Pu conveys my thoughts to Pun and conveys his thoughts to me. He makes us talk and understand each other more. In addition, Pu supports all students. If you have anything, you can talk to Pu about it. He listens to opinions and never blocks them. He never let go of the students.”

     Pun is currently studying in Mattayom 6 and has just passed the entrance examination to the Faculty of Social Administration at Thammasat University. His dream is to become a school guidance counselor because this profession can help students discover themselves, which might not be different from what Pu has done for him.

“The First Safe Step Out of the Comfort Zone”

     Pu believes in providing opportunities for young people to learn new things so that they can look ahead with a clear perspective. This is evident from the fact that, after 2 years of the Program, he is still working on youth learning. Pu is now a co-founder of Fundamy, a learning space for youth in Nakhon Pathom Province.

     “I thought, what if children could have a learning space in their own province without having to go to Bangkok? What if it’s a safe space for children to come together?”

     Fundamy’s main activity started with training young people to develop soft skills. The project is now part of the Incubation of the Society of New Generations and Social Innovation (SYSI) and aims to become a social enterprise. Most of the people who work with Fundamy are fellows from Teach For Thailand who share the same vision.

     “We set a goal that within 5 years, Nakhon Pathom must become a model of a learning area for youth.”

     Pu’s mission both today and during the 2 years of the fellowship may be a clear reflection of Teach for Thailand’s vision: to make all Thai children access an equitable education so that they can determine their own future. Pu noticed the problem, took action to help students find themselves, and created a learning space for youth, which is now considered part of creating an impact for equity in education. As well, other Teach for Thailand’s fellows are making educational impacts in different sectors of society according to their own expertise.