Thailand was reputable for being the global number one on income disparity. Inequality in Thailand rises, widening the gap between the rich and the poor. Global Wealth report and Databook records in December 2018 shows that the wealthiest 1% of the country controls approximately 67% of Thailand’s inflation. The two poorest provinces in Thailand are Pattani and Narathiwat, are also affected because of unequal funding distribution.
Additionally, an estimated number of 1 million children are in vulnerable conditions, whereas some are forced to live on streets, and several poor children do not have access to medical care.
Other than medical problems, inequality of education between the urban and rural cities’ gap is widening every year. There is a difference in knowledge between students in urban and rural schools for almost 2 academic years (Ministry of Education). A vast number of present Thai teens face a daunting moment and an unknown future of regulations that allow not only an excessively big share of the nation’s wealth to pile up to only the rich minorities at the very top of the pyramid, but also inequality of education. This leads Thai youth to criticize and protest.
We; Thai youth nowadays are known for our intolerance. New generations are thought to be alert with surroundings and demand for change. Questions are raised but no one seems to hear our voices. Despite that, the Youth Volunteers for APEC takes a step towards change.
The Youth Volunteers for APEC unifies all the new generations with leadership potential and an aspiration to make a difference to the current societal structure. It opens a platform for the new generation to voice out their perspective on the governmental system, economics, and relationships with APEC members and how we can enhance Thailand in a better light.
Throughout the program, The Youth Volunteers are exposed to questioning real-life Thai’s societal challenges and begin brainstorming ideas and solutions with individuals from various backgrounds to address such complicated concerns.
Thus, we also learnt to deal with these issues while accepting the differences and diversity among us, such as generation gaps, genders, region, race, culture, class, etc. Collaboration requires understanding, acceptance, and empathy.
This provided the space for the voice of youth to create ripples and reflect new ideas that adults often overlook. Our voices were heard by all experts including the civil servants that permits us to step up and raise concerns. Many issues were addressed, and awareness was spread.
An example of a concept provided by Youth Volunteer APEC to help the small communities is “From Local to Global,” which initiates the idea of bringing the potential out of urban local products, such as Thai Silk, Thai Spices, or Thai Handicrafts. “Local to Global” not only reduces the disparity but it also supports local provinces to gain their sense of cultural value and advance the image of Thailand.
In the near future, as young Thai citizens that are waiting for the implementation of state policies, this procedure may be lengthy and it might be long for us to see the actual transformation.
But we can first take a small step to create change in our nearby communities through the collaboration of the local people to alleviate the inequality. For instance, we can help to spread news on relevant projects of the state that aim to assist the poor.
Thanks to the leadership of Minister Juti Krairerk, Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS), we saw the Youth Volunteers for APEC program, designed by ASEAN Training Centre for Social work and Social Welfare (ATCSW) – as a remarkable platform to foster ideas and build strong networks among future leaders – especially when we have the opportunity to understand economic insights from a range of specialists whether this be diplomats, academics and entrepreneurs.
The knowledge gained now will serve as a foundation for future growth. We may use the concepts introduced as a springboard for further development in our local community.
Although at this current stage, a little seed like ours may not make a “significant” change. But on the day that the seed has grown into a tree, when we are working in the related fields be it public or private.
We can crystallize what reflects our country and then utilize them to adjust the economic structure of inequality. We trust that if all of us unite into one large society, we can bring Thailand to a prosperous destination.