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Pattaya Daily News

20 February 2013 :: 09:02:18 am 70928

Health Ministry Aims To Raise IQs of Thai Kids

The Ministry of Public Health has been developing a project to increase the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of Thai children from the year 2000.
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The project involves expanding the knowledge base of three age groups of Thai child intelligence developing technology: from birth to 5 years old, from 6 to 11 years old, and adolescents from 12 to 18 years old.

The prototype has been created for the boosting of children’s intelligence and developing information systems extending to the local government. The government’s focus on Thai child development is concerned with increasing intelligence, or the intelligence quotient (IQ); as well as emotional intelligence, or the emotional quotient (EQ).

The goal is not to fall below the international standard of the intelligence tests, said Dr. Chonnan Seekaew, deputy minister of the Public Health Ministry. A 2011 survey of the IQ of students across the country found that Thai children averaged an IQ of 98.59 points, lower than the present international IQ standard of 100 points.

The highest IQ area was in Bangkok and central Thailand, which averaged 101.29 points. The next highest was the northern area, with 100.11 points; followed by the southern area with 96.85 points. The lowest IQs were in northeast Thailand, which averaged 95.99 points.

In 2013, the Ministry of Public Health made a policy to support the children to cultivate a higher IQ, which focused on three areas of improvement. The first was to create healthy children clinics in hospitals across the country. The second was to create 20,000 child development centers nationwide. The third was to teach parents how to improve their skills in raising their children.

Mothers were encouraged to only breastfeed their child for the first 6 months to build the baby’s IQ. Parents were also taught how to monitor their children to notice any developmental disorders, which could be better fixed if detected early, to help children develop to their full potential.

The Ministry plans to conduct another survey in 2016. The health minister feels confident that by that time the Thai children’s IQ will have reached 100 points to meet international standards.

The government also has been working on the development of emotional intelligence, or EQ, in Thai children. The 2011 survey by the Ministry of Mental Health in Thailand found that in the 6 to 11-year-old age range, the national average EQ score was 45.12, lower than normal EQ standard of 50 points.

Only 28 percent of that age group had reached the 50 point standard. The results showed that 80 per cent of the tested Thai children needed developing in EQ intelligence. The EQ measurement consists of three elements: being intelligent, morally good, and happy, said Dr. Wachira Pengjan, the director general of the Department of Mental Health.

One issue of concern is the finding that Thai children have the lowest score in being confident and assertive, at just 43 per cent, while “festive joy” was measured at 45 per cent.

According to the assessment of teachers, the sum of the EQ scores remained unchanged in the year 2002 compared to the year 2007. The raw EQ points were likely to decline in 2011, down to 170, said Dr. Wachira. This score is even lower than the lowest EQ score of 180 points in 2007, indicating a worrisome decline in the social skills and overall happiness of Thai children, she said.

The point total for 2002 was 186. But in 2011, the points measuring the qualities of being good, intelligent and happy and all other aspects were also at their lowest points, the doctor said.

So in the year of 2013, the Department of Mental Health has accelerated its efforts and commitment to developing Thailand’s children, in the three groups of the children and adolescents in the Child Development Centers, in elementary schools, and in secondary schools.

The renewed efforts by the Ministry will help lead Thai children towards integrating more fully into the ASEAN community. Officials fully expect that the EQ scores will be better when another survey of students is conducted in 2016.

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