Last week, student activists organised events to make fun of the paternalism that underpins Thailand’s National Children’s Day.
On 4 February 2016, the student activist group Education for Liberation of Siam (ELS) held an event called “National Seniors Day: Seniors in the Era of a Changing World” at Banglamphu Museum, Bangkok.
The event aimed to mock National Children’s Day, a day where adults seem to impose certain values on children. The event featured activities ranging from a workshop on the social media app Line to a talk on the problems faced by LGBTIQ+ children.
Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak, a representative of ELS, explained that just as National Children’s Day shows children the world through adults’ eyes, the events organised by ELS aimed to offer adults a glimpse into the lives of a younger generation.
National Children’s Day, elaborated Parit, is a day when adults explain to children ‘how the world is, and how children should be’, with a theme revolving around ‘good children’ each year. The day introduces children to the world of adults, which is one that contains guns and tanks
“Because National Children’s Day makes children understand an adult’s view of the world, we organised [events] to show adults that the world has changed,” said Parit.
For National Senior’s Day, ELS composed a song “Beloved Adults, Good Adults”, which has gained popularity on social media. Its lyrics are as follows:
Beloved adults, good adults must have ten traits
One! Be open-minded about religion.
Two! See the worth of people.
Three! Exercise judgement.
Four! Speech must be free from bias and insults.
Five! Have faith in reason.
Six! Respect those who think differently.
Seven! Listen to children and receive knowledge about the world without getting in the way.
Eight! Diminish your ego.
Nine! Constantly improve yourself. The new world is large and expansive. By keeping up with the times, nations develop.
Ten! Create goodness from yourself. Apologise when mistakes are made. Don’t pass on mistakes to your descendants.
The song is a parody of an old nursery rhyme ‘Children’s Duty’. Education for Liberation of Siam is a student network working to reform education in Thailand.
One of the day’s more popular activities was an “O-NET mock exam” where seniors sat a real standardised exam that Thai students undergo. One question was, “If you feel sexual urges, what should you do?” The correct answer was, “Invite friends to play football.” (Photo from Matichon Online)