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The Royal Thai Army is conducting a programme to educate kindergarten children to be patriotic through the junta’s controversial nationalistic 12 Thai Values.      

On 21 December 2016, Lt Col Phansak Phraewphanit, Commander of the 1st Infantry Battalion of the 29 Army Regiment in Kanchanaburi Province, welcomed a group of 180 kindergarten children and their teachers to participate in a ‘Homeland Defence Battalion’ programme, Matichon Online reported.

In the programme, soldiers showed children military operations and taught them patriotic values to love the nation, religions, and the Thai Monarchy through the controversial 12 Thai Values.

The military also instructed the children about late King Bhumibol’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy while showing them farming techniques.

According to Matichon, this is the second time that the Royal Thai Army has run the programme, adding that many more schools and kindergartens will join the programme in the future.

Two months after the coup d’état in May 2014, the Thai coup-makers set out a plan to reform Thailand’s education system, which is reported to be one of the worst in the region. But instead of improving the quality of educators and other structural problems in the national curriculum, the junta promoted 12 nationalistic Thai values to the top of the new education reform agenda.

This kind of promotion of youth values through schools is not new to Thailand. Under the nationalistic regime of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram from 1938-1944, ten values for youth were promoted alongside other secular nationalistic values.

The so-called 12 traditional Thai values invented by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader, after the coup d’état in May are:

  1. Love for the nation, religions and monarchy
  2. Honesty, patience and good intentions for the public
  3. Gratitude to parents, guardians and teachers
  4. Perseverance in learning
  5. Conservation of Thai culture
  6. Morality and sharing with others
  7. Correct understanding of democracy with the monarch as head of the state
  8. Discipline and respect for the law and elders  
  9. Awareness in thinking and doing things, and following the guidance of His Majesty the King
  10. Living by the sufficiency economy philosophy guided by His Majesty the King
  11. Physical and mental strength against greed
  12. Concern about the public and national good more than self-interest.

Soldiers of the 1st Infantry Battalion of the 29 Army Regiment in Kanchanaburi Province show kindergarten children military operations on 21 Dec 2016 (Photo from Prachaya Nongnuch's Facebook)

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