Early childhood curriculum in Thailand: An investigation into perceptions of the cultivation of Thainess in young children
In 2003, the Thai Government introduced a revised early childhood curriculum to replace the 1997 Pre-Primary Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 1997a). This was in response to social and economic changes in Thailand such as both parents working, increasing cultural diversity, and influences from other countries (Ministry of Education, 2003b; Renard, 2006). According to the Ministry of Education, these changes had a negative impact on the cultivation of Thainess and citizenship in a changing society. The 2003 Early Childhood Curriculum (2003-2017) provides a framework and specific guidelines for early childhood education and care for children from birth to 5 years of age (Ministry of Education, 2003b). This study investigates how early childhood services addressed young children’s learning of Thai culture and identity when the early childhood services implemented the official curriculum. The investigation explored how services perceived the role of the government in supporting the cultivation of Thainess with young children. Parents’ perceptions of their participation in promoting Thainess with their children is also addressed. The research design included a survey and a multiple case study, both carried out in two districts of central Bangkok: Klongtoey and Wattana. The survey received 235 responses while the multiple case study involved eight services. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with principals, head teachers, early childhood teachers, and parents. Document analysis was also used. Findings revealed that the majority of the services integrated various aspects of Thai culture and identity into their daily programme despite the 2003 Early Childhood Curriculum not providing specific guidelines in this area. However, government regulations were key in promoting Thainess through young children’s participation in cultural activities and practices when attending early childhood services.