Atchara Pradit

Speaking Time and Room No.: 2006-9-23 8:30-10:30 Room II

Speaker: ATCHARA PRADIT (Thailand)


Researcher : Ms. ATCHARA PRADIT

Head of Children’s Literature Program,

Department of Library and Information Science,

Faculty of Humanities, Srinakharinwirot University,



Research Title:

Reading Promotion in Primary Schools of Thailand:

The study of the problematic background, the key success factors and interesting activities of reading promotion found in 10 Primary Schools within Bangkok and its nearby provinces, which won the reading promotion award on the year 2003 given by Her Royal Highness Princess Sirindhorn, or other awards given by private sector.


Research Objective:

1. To study problems and key success factors of reading promotion in 10 primary schools in Bangkok and its two starlet provinces, which are Nonthaburi and Pathumtanee

2. To gather interesting and effective reading promotion activities and techniques done in the focus schools, as examples and inspirations for other primary schools in Thailand

3. To promote the research result to public



The year 2003 was promoted the “Year of Reading” in Thailand by the government. Even though reading promotion in Thailand had been done continuously for over half a decade, by many government organizations and private sectors, it hasn’t been successful enough to create strong reading concern among Thai people. On the year 2003 also there was a shocking statistic about Thai people’s reading habit, announced by the National Statistic Organization of Thailand. It revealed that averagely a Thai people would read only 6 lines a day or only 5 books a year. (Compare to 17 books read by Singaporean and 50 books read by American a year.) The most read subject is newspaper. This striking statistic really aroused public interest in paying more attention to the reading habit of Thai young children hoping that they would read more books than their former generations. From the year 2003 onwards, there have been many reading promotion campaigns flourishing everywhere. Mostly in primary schools and secondary schools, there are many active reading promotion activities onto young children as attempts to alter that shocking reading statistic. One of the major national reading campaigns initiated by the Ministry of Education, which influenced primary and secondary schools interest nationwide, is the reading awards given by HRH Princess Sirindhorn, the Crown Princess of Thailand, who, among her many admirable qualities, is the model of reading. The awards were given to the most outstanding and successful reading activities done in primary and secondary schools, that applied to the Ministry of Education for the awards consideration. Nationally, there were many schools won the awards. However, in primary schools within Bangkok and its provincial starlet, number of the award-wining schools is rather small. There were only nearly 10 of them although there are over 400 government and private primary schools in Bangkok alone. It was interesting to study the success factors that bring the schools up to the award. So this research studied the whole process of reading promotion done in the awarded schools to find out about at least 3 aspects concerning their successes: reading situation in primary schools, problems and success factors in initiating reading habits onto young people.

The Focus Group:

The focus group is the 10 primary schools, 8 are in Bangkok and 1 in Nonthaburi, 1 in Pathumtanee (both city are within 2 hours drive from the central Bangkok). 7 of them are government schools and 3 are private schools. The sizes of the schools vary from 700-4,500 students. The sizes of school libraries are from 2 classrooms to one whole floor of a building, with 700-40,000 books circulation in the libraries.

Research Method:

The research gathered information mostly by personal interviewing the schools’ staffs; from the director boards to teachers and pupils. Interviewing schools’ directors or the management board members is to find out about budget and human resource policies and supports on reading promotion. Interviewing teachers involving in reading promotion activities, such as Thai language teachers, school librarians, pupils who are volunteer librarians is to know about techniques and methods of reading promotion. Surveying the schools libraries is to collect data about sizes, services, reading activities and number of books circulation in the libraries. Interviewing pupils is to learn about their reading habit and reaction and participation in school reading activities, also their family supports in reading.

Research result:

In studying the success factors of reading promotion process in the focus schools, the research consequently found out problems involving in the reading promotion which reflected the common ground many schools faced in general. Perhaps, those problems should be brought up first in order to help understanding the reading promotion situation in Thai primary schools. Then the key success factors will be explained later.

The research finds out that there are many problems concerning reading promotion in schools, as stated in the following.

1. The lack of experienced librarian in school.

This problem is considered the worse among many and quite complicated to solve. The lack is more serious in the government primary schools than the private schools. The lacking of experienced librarians is the result of the government policy on the school human resource. In a government primary school, normally there is no librarian position stated as a school staff. It is then almost impossible to hire a librarian to be in charge of the school library even though many schools have a library. For no official position means no official funding from the government to pay for salary or to support for library odd jobs. If a school needed a librarian, it had to financially struggle to hire a librarian on it own. The supporting fee the government pays for a pupil in a government primary school is 1,100 bath for an academic year (equivalent to US$ 29). This money is for everything, the staffs salary, the teaching medias, the school estate and environment maintenance, the power and water supplied, and all the odds and ends. Of course, the mean support is barely enough to cover only for the school basic needs, let alone hiring an additional staff for the school library, which is in a way considered rather unnecessary. Contrastingly, the private schools in the focus group are freer to hire as many staffs as they like, including experienced librarians, since the educational fee they received allowed (normally triple or five times the amount the government support). In the researched government primary schools, they struggled in the following ways…

1.1 Financially struggle on their own to find extra income as budget for hiring a full-time librarian, to purchase books and to run odd job in school library. The popular ways are to organize school’s fund raising activities, like walk rally or merit making day to donate money to school, or selling books on library week to get profit for the budget, or simply requested additional expense from school fee from pupil’s parents to support for school’s activity. Frequently, the amount is around 300-500 bath (US$ 8-13) a semester.

The financial problem is much easier solved than the human resource problem. If the school can clearly showed to pupils parents where and how the additional school fee would be spent for the pupils’ benefit, they are more than willing to help. However, all researched government and private schools find it’s hard to recruit an expert librarian even their financial allowed. Some of the schools might have to recruit a librarian for a year or two before finding one. There are many reasons for the difficulty.

First, newly graduated librarians from university have negative attitude towards school librarian job that prevented them to apply for the job in primary schools. In Thailand there is a reputation about the school librarian job that it is hard working, badly paid, overloading with many responsibility and no further career opportunity. Frankly speaking, those understandings are quite true. Usually, a newly graduated in Library and Information Science prefers to work in private sectors if s/he has a choice. When asking why s/he openly states the salary is better, there are many possibilities to further career opportunity, and working environment is more challenging and even “trendier”. Every year there are approximately 300 librarians graduated from all universities in Thailand. But only a few percents is willing and wanting to work in their graduated field. Looking back at the government’s staff policy in primary school, that there is no job title for a school librarian, it is understandable hard for a librarian to get raise or to step into higher position in school. Since many primary schools hire a librarian on their own budget without support from the government, there is no guarantee for the future of the librarian. If a librarian wants a higher position in school after working for 2-5 years, often s/he has to leave the library to work in management section, causing the recruitment of a new librarian. This is repeatedly occurred more than often in the researched schools and general primary schools around Thailand.


The same problem occurred in the researched private schools as well. Even though, they are ready and willing to hire a librarian, they have to wait a long time before one application comes along. Usually, the applicant for primary school librarian job is not a librarian graduated. If wanted to hire the person, the school would have to train librarian knowledge and skills for years onto the person before s/he would be able to operate school library properly.

1.2 Put the reading promotion job onto other school staffs. In most cases of the focus schools, instead of a school librarian’s responsibility for reading promotion, a Thai language teacher in the school is always responsible for the duty. Part of the reasons to it is related to the government school staff policy that caused the lacking of school librarian. Another part of the reasons is that there is a Thai language teacher in every school, and normally reading habit is considering related to reading and writing skills that Thai language Thai language teaches anyway. It is then “convenient” to put librarian job onto Thai language teacher’s shoulders. So willing or not, a Thai language teacher must add reading promotion and library management onto their duty list. Subsequently, a Thai language teacher in primary school is overloaded with jobs.


If it is impossible to put the librarian task and reading promotion job to a Thai language teacher, the school director would have to ask other school staffs who seem interested in the job and capable to do it, such as a math teacher or a gymnastic teacher. In a way, these teachers cannot efficiently promote reading, since they would tend to promote reading subjects relevant to their expertise or only what they are familiar with. A Thai language teacher would promote reading on subject related to Thai language, like classical fictions, newspaper, etc. Whereas, promoting reading should mean reading in a broader topics, like science, history, mathematic or even cooking and beauty secrets.

1.3 Close the school library and ignore its existence. This act does not occur in the researched schools, but there are many primary schools around the country choose to lock up the school library to end the financial and staff problems related to the lack of librarian. There are lots of primary schools especially in the rural area of Thailand, that changed their libraries into the school storage room.

2. Insufficient yearly budget support for school library from the government

One of Thai government social welfares is to provide free education for all Thai children age 6-12 years old. As stated above that normally the government supports about 1,100 bath for a child a year, for his school fee and other educational related needs within a government primary school. The amount is sufficient to cover and sustain only the necessities in school, but its restriction makes it hard for a government school to create extra service or improve school quality, including new book purchasing for school library all the year round. Thus numbers of books purchasing into a government school library is limited mostly by the book’s price rather than its quality.

However, in the researched schools both government and private ones, this is not the case. They simply struggle to be financially independent and truly try to maintain their library to high standard. At least 10,000-20,000 bath (US$263-526) budget is provided for books purchasing good quality books all the year round in the researched government schools, whereas over 50,000 baht (US$ 1,316) is willingly provided to libraries in the researched private schools.


3. Books for young readers are rather expensive compare to books for juvenile readers

The expensive price of books for young readers in Thailand is really effected young children’s reading behavior. Normally a hard cover quality picture book cost about 200-300 baht (US$ 5-8), while the standard daily wage for a labor worker in Thailand is around 200 baht. Buying a good quality book for a child mean a whole day’s wage, it is understandable many parents do not willing to pay that much for it. As the research finds out many children in the focus schools, more in the government schools, tend to buy cheap books that they can afford (which are cheap comic books, or crude quality cartoon books with poor language and illustrations), rather than the more expensive ones, because the child has to save his own daily pocket money to buy it. The school library is the most convenient place where a child can gain access to good quality books, unfortunately, the limited budget from the government support prevented sufficient book titles circulated in a school library. Again, this situation is better in the researched private schools.


Those are the problematic common background of reading situation in primary schools of Thailand. Now I would like to present the success factors in reading promotion among the 10 focus schools:

The key success factors in reading promotion process in the focus schools are briefly concluded into the following:

1) The school has the director who is aware of reading importance.

The ideal school director who would enable successful reading promotion in school despite all the mentioned problems, is an active reader with wide vision, who understands the important and impact of promotion reading habit among young people. This type of school director would enable supportive policies both financially and personally to the reading promotion job to solve the problems mentioned above, because his positive attitude toward reading promotion.


2) The school has active reading promotion staffs.

The school staffs responsible for reading promotion in the focus schools are mostly Thai language teachers, librarians with a few teachers who teach other subjects like Math or History. All of the focus schools, there is at least 1 librarian in charge of school library and reading promotion job, working full time with some volunteer pupils (30-50 pupils) to help in library management. If not a librarian, a group of Thai language teachers (2-3 person) would be assigned to share responsibility in reading promotion in the school, otherwise, they would co-work with the librarian to do the job.

The staffs in the focus schools are very devoted to the job. They share

ideas and help planning interesting reading activity all the year round.

3) Sufficient and continuous funding for book buying and other school library business

4) Suitable size of school library and Sufficient books circulation in the school library

5) The community support for the school’s business


An Example of Outstanding Reading Promotion Activity:

An Example of Reading Promotion Activity in the researched schools

There are many interesting reading activities in the focus schools. Such as school newspaper, school reporter. But the most outstanding activity that is done in every focus schools is “drop everything and read” project.

On the year 2003-2004, the Ministry of Education with Dr. Sirikorn Maneerin as the Minister launched a reading project in government and private primary schools called “Drop everything and Read” or “Five minutes reading multiplying wisdom”. This project wished to initiate reading habit into young people that they can spend less time in reading which will bring lots of benefit to them. The project is divided into 2 major activities. The first is the reading activity and the second is the writing activity.

In the reading activity, it is usually done during the homeroom session after the morning gathering. A classroom teacher would encourage the pupils to stop doing whatever they are doing for 10-15 minutes and read anything close at hands (mostly books provided in the classroom books corner, otherwise pupils’ own book that they bring from home). This private reading is suitable for grown-up kids. But for very young children, the classroom teacher would have to read to them, or storytelling to them. The reading time limitation is varied among the focus schools. In some government schools, the limit is considered quite short; only 5-15 minutes. (The school pupils comment on the time that it is too short for a reading). The short time reading doesn’t effectively cultivate true reading habits among readers. Because the research shows that pupils in government primary schools always selected newspaper, advertising, or commercial brochures as subjects of their reading. Whereas in the private schools, the reading time is extended to 15-30 minutes, so pupils tend to read longer books, such as fiction, novel, documentary column, children periodical or “a real book”.

After reading, every pupil is asked to write down what s/he read in a book call “Reading Diary” for 5-10 minutes, to record their reading. This diary is inspired by Princess Sirindhorn’s admirable habit; she always writes down whatever she read or heard in a notebook whenever she was on a trip abroad to keep record of her experience. This reading diary is then checked weekly by the classroom teacher, then, monthly checked by the Thai language teacher or the school librarian. The checking is to care for pupil’s spelling and his/her skill in filling detail in the reading record format. The format is differed from very young to grown up child. In state of writing, a very young children in primary level (the first to second grade) can record his reading by drawing pictures of prominent scenes that he could remember. The checking of these reading diary is to find out the best readers in a classroom, to be rewarded with a certificate or a small gift at the end of every semester, so that to sustain pupils’ interests in joining the project all through the academic year.



1) If the school director is interested in the reading promotion, s/he would try every way to make it possible for the high performance of the job, in budget policy, human resource management, and the continuous improving quality of the school library.

2) There should be at least 1 full-time librarian in primary schools. To do reading promotion. This staff needs to co-ordinate his work with other teachers in school to extend reading habit for young people to the whole school in a large scale, not only reading in the library. Every staffs in school needs to find some way to relate reading promotion onto their teaching of every subject.

3) It is necessary that the school library is provided with continuous book purchasing budget all through the academic year. Instead of big lot buying once a year. The minimum budget should not lesser than 10,000-20,000 baht (US$ 264-526)

4) The government needs to find some way to reduce books prices to the level that any one can afford it.

5) A sufficient size of a school library with about 700-1,000 students shouldn’t be smaller than 2 classrooms.

6) An average of 10,000-20,000 book titles is required for about 1,000 pupils in the school