NRRU Community Research Journal
NRRU Community Research Journal
The study was aimed to study the current situation of communication network management and network communication strategies of the elderly schools in Chiang Rai and Kalasin Provinces, including guidelines for developing network communication of elderly schools towards sustainability. The study is qualitative research, conducted by in-depth interviews and focus group interviews with all concerned people in two groups of elderly schools: strong and developing. From the study, it was found that at present Kalasin Province has the highest number of elderly schools in the nation, while Chiang Rai Province is the province in which the first elderly school was established. The network management of the elderly schools of both provinces was found to be a part of elderly clubs’ activities at a sub-district level, comprising two main parts: the civic networks, i.e., community leaders, monks, elderly clubs, sub-district and village chiefs, people in the community, academic institutes, and local politicians, and 2) local government networks, i.e., municipality, the Sub-District Administrative Organization (SAO), and sub-district health-promoting hospitals. The schools were established and managed in the form of a committee. Most elderly school leaders in Chiang Rai Province, who were samples of the study, were monks due to socio-cultural context in which people are tied closely to Buddhism whereas most elderly school leaders in Kalasin Province were community leaders due to the northeastern culture, especially Phu Thai ethnicity, which pays high importance to local leaders. Regarding the network communication strategies, communication in and outside schools was divided into 3 periods: 1) Before the school establishment period in which all elderly schools communicated for compiling community networks, fundraising, and inviting the elderly to participate in schools’ activities through media. 2) After the school establishment period in which all schools communicated their objectives to the elderly who never attended school and general communities, including external agencies for support. 3) During the maintenance of the school networks in which all schools communicated to create morale and motivation for working groups. Besides, they communicated for maintaining good relationships with external networks. For the roles of a sender and receiver, it was found that network members took a role as both senders and receivers, while school leaders played a role as the main senders. Communicated content emphasized the content that was beneficial for school development. In terms of media and channels, the media used in the internal network were activity, personal, and social media, i.e., Line Group, etc. while the external networks were personal, community, social, and traditional or local media. Moreover, it was found that elderly schools had main concurrent problems of “people” and “funds.” As guidelines for developing “people” issues, elderly schools should have flexible network management. Members should be replaceable and young generations should be encouraged to participate in the network to replace the old members in the future, while communication for maintaining relationships should be conducted continually. For the management of “funds,” elderly schools should have external networks, such as the provincial elderly-school network and government agencies to support information that helps to access governmental funds. Besides, elderly schools should have strong networks and communication strategies that help to create and maintain collaboration in the networks sustainably through the use of a variety of media and channels, especially social media, which can access and acquire support from the new generations, in combination with the use of traditional media for increasing the effectiveness of creating commitment and engagement among local people of the same area.
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