A series of protests since 2006 has sparked an urgent need for a new kind of education in Thailand - civic education, the process of educating citizens on their rights, duties and responsibilities to empower them.
According to the 2009 International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS), about one fourth of Thai students lacked basic conceptual understanding in civics and citizenship.
The study covers 140,000 students with the mean age of 13-and-a-half years in 38 participating countries. Through the answers to 79 questions, Thai students showed their knowledge on civic rights was lower than the ICCS average.
From the study, only 8 per cent of Thai students had civic knowledge solid enough for application and forming proper judgements.
Some 38 per cent had just basic civic knowledge and 29 per cent knew the issues well enough to understand the interconnectedness of civic and |civil institutions, and the processes |and systems through which these |operate.
The result pinpoints what parties here need to develop for civic education in Thailand.
It should be noted that the 2009 ICCS study found 91 per cent of Thai students had a complete or significant trust in schools, as opposed to 72 per cent for media and 85 per cent for national governments.
Schools and educational authorities should play an important role in the promotion of civic education. By winning children's trust, they are in a good position to instil the right attitudes and dispositions in the young.