British Embassy Bangkok, The Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC), the British Council (Thailand) and the Thai Foundation for Responsible Drinking (TFRD) have come together in the launch of the ‘Smashed Project – Breaking Underage Drinking’, a creative theatrical experience consisting of interactive workshops designed to affect behavioral change among youth and reduce underage alcohol consumption. The project is in line with OBEC’s ‘Moderate Class More Knowledge’ policy and will be piloted in 40 schools in Bangkok from August to December 2016, with over 4,000 students forecasted to benefit from this innovative educational project.
The Smashed Project was originally initiated in the UK in 2004 to help reduce underage drinking through performing arts and interactive workshops, with robust evaluation methods. The project has been recognized by the UK Government and garnered a good practice award. To date, the Smashed Project has reached 250,000 youths in the UK and has continuously expanded globally to Northern Ireland, Vietnam, Jamaica, Mozambique, and Taiwan. Thailand is the latest addition to this list.
Margaret Tongue, Chargé d’ Affaires, British Embassy Bangkok addressed:
We are committed to working together to protect young people from underage drinking and to lay the foundations for a life-long responsible attitude towards alcohol. The Smashed Project has proven successful in achieving these goals in many countries, including the UK. I am delighted to see the launch of the Smashed Project in Thailand through the public private partnership between the British Embassy, the Office of the Basic Education Commission, the British Council and the Thai Foundation for Responsible Drinking.
Mr. Amnat Wichayanuwat, Assistant Secretary General of the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) said:
The Government’s policy in creating tangible education reform focuses on various activities to better prepare students with knowledge and skills for the ever-changing 21st century. In this vein, the Ministry of Education has devised the ‘Moderate Class More Knowledge’ policy, to shift traditional education activities to more effective, self-directed learning comprised of diverse out-of-classroom activities. The Smashed Project not only promotes self-directed learning among youth, but brings together analytical and life skills in a powerful format which enables students to recognize the negative impacts of underage drinking. The project therefore aligns with “Moderate Class More Knowledge” objectives.
Mr. Prin Malakul Na Ayudhaya, President of Thai Foundation for Responsible Drinking (TFRD) revealed:
The Smashed Project is a part of TFRD’s commitment to the Global Strategy to Reduce Harmful Use of Alcohol by the World Health Organization; in which the foundation has continuously and earnestly worked with partners from public and private sector to provide educational programmes and campaigns with an emphasis on addressing three main issues; tackling drinking and driving, prevention of underage drinking, and education on responsible drinking. According to the findings by World Health Organization, Thailand has seen increasing numbers of new young drinkers. It is even more worrisome that approximately 50% of youths who consume alcohol beverages started drinking when they were less than 15 years of age. Therefore, underage drinking prevention must be handled at the very early stage. The Smashed Project has received favorable feedback in the UK; with 90.1% of students who participated in the project saying they learnt more about the risks of alcohol misuse, and 80% saying that they would avoid alcohol harm now or in the future. Additionally, outright prohibition cannot entirely prevent youths from underage drinking; TFRD is confident that the Smashed Project will also introduce and present to the participants the reasons to reject underage drinking, which is one way to bring about effective and sustainable solutions to underage drinking problems in Thailand.
Mr. Andrew Glass, Director of British Council (Thailand) said:
British Council is the UK’s cultural relations organisation promoting world-wide opportunities and collaboration in Education, English, and Arts. The Smashed Project is another example where we collaborate with local partner organisations, bringing in the UK’s expertise in creative education and knowledge in the arts to effectively address social challenges. I hope that this project will have a strong influence on students’ perceptions and behaviour, and will help strengthen society.
After its launch, the ‘Smashed Project – Breaking Underage Drinking’ will visit 40 schools in Bangkok during August to December 2016, and 4,000 students will benefit from the activity directly.