NIST students learn from Khun Mechai Viravaidya

about ‘How NIST students can help reduce poverty and tackle inequality in Thailand’

On Tuesday 7th May 2013, Khun Mechai Viravaidya, Founder and Chairman of the Population and Community Development Association and Mechai Viravaidya Foundation in Thailand, returned to NIST to continue his dialogue with Year 5 students, this time on ‘Poverty and Inequality – How NIST students can help?’

The initiative, in collaboration with Khun Mechai and Mechai Viravaidya Foundation, follows on from the special presentation to the students given by Khun Mechai in November 2012. As ‘service’ and ‘action’ are an integral part of NIST’s International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme, the students were inspired to take on the challenge of organising a toy drive in November and again in May.

The Year 5 students worked on a unit to explore how economic systems can help to reduce poverty. Khun Mechai, who has initiated numerous projects related to this, was the perfect person to share his work in Thailand with the students. The aim was for the students to understand that giving aid is not a long-term solution to poverty, and that people need the education, skills and access to opportunities to help themselves.

“Khun Mechai’s strong message was that people in poverty need business skills and access to funds to enable them to start a viable business to sustain their families. This aligned perfectly with the student enquiries into micro credit systems,” said Jane Cooper, NIST’s Year 5 teacher.

As Miya, one of the students said during the talk, “If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.”

“During this session he discussed many interesting initiatives used at Mechai Pattana School in Pattaya, from Understanding Hunger, Learning to Respect Others, Agriculture in a Wheelchair to Income Generating Activities for Vulnerable Groups and other community services projects. NIST students will find this inspiring as they expand their horizons and their understanding of the different world beyond their classroom. They will benefit in the long run having this knowledge at such a young age,” said Ms Mondira, a Year 5 teacher.

“During this session, I've learnt how to give and be generous. The people in the rural Thai villages aren't as fortunate as us and I'm proud that Year 5 has made other children, who don't have a lot, happy,” said Nayla, a Year 5 student.

“This initiative enabled our Year 5 students to gain a greater insight into the lives of their peers in rural Thai villages. They enjoyed the opportunity to learn about, promote within their school and organise an initiative that will make a great difference to the quality of life for other children,” said Mr. Chris Boreham, Elementary Vice Principal.

"We are hoping to continue our working relationship with NIST and plan for the future of the two schools working together,” said Khun Mechai.



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