A New Library
With the help of our partnering organization, the Samsara Foundation, Global Playground funded the construction of a new library for Huay Puung Mai School in the Mae Hong Son province of Northern Thailand. Samsara, a local NGO based in Chiang Mai, previously worked with the Thai Ministry of Education and local communities in Northern Thailand to install new water purification systems at schools in the region and to build canteens, dormitories, and libraries.
Since 2011, Global Playground has been sending Teaching Fellows to Mae La Noi Daroonsik School, a secondary school in the small town of Mae La Noi, also in the Mae Hong Son province. These Teaching Fellows are fully absorbed into the school community as they live on campus and are given the same teaching responsibilities as their Thai co-workers. Fellows not only teach English in the classroom, but they also incorporate cross-cultural learning opportunities into their daily lesson plans.
The Huay Puung Mai School is located about two and half hours outside of the provincial capital of Mae Sariang and provides education from kindergarten to Grade nine. Currently, the school serves a student body of approximately 200 individuals coming from Huay Puung Mai and villages in the surrounding area. Because some students’ homes are in very remote areas, around 40 students live in dormitories on campus and the library functions as a main study area for these young learners. The cost of the library was $13,385, which included the following: a new building, 10 tables with accompanying benches, four large bookshelves, and educational books.
Mae La Noi Daroonsik is a public secondary school (Grades 7 – 12) of around 1,000 students. Many of the students are from local hill tribes and might commute up to 40 kilometers to get to school. On-campus dormitories provide housing for those who live too far away to commute every day and these students have around-the-clock access to dining halls, study areas, and a small school shop. The school runs several environmentally conscious projects on the school grounds and students and teachers work together to maintain these projects throughout the year.
The State of Education
Under the new Constitution of 1997, Thai law guarantees a free, basic education to all Thai citizens. According to this law, a basic education consists of six years of primary schooling and six additional years of secondary education. In 2002, an amendment was added guaranteeing two years of free preschool education. Thailand is fortunate enough to be well developed and stable with 22.3% of its national budget spent on education, a very high percentage compared to its neighboring states.1
Although Thailand has made great strides, many students are still not receiving the education they were promised. According to UNICEF, only 75% of students are entering primary school. On top of that, about one million children are classified as “at-risk” and face a high likelihood of being exploited by child traffickers or being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.2
Despite natural disasters, financial setbacks, and recent political upheaval, Thailand has managed to enjoy a high degree of stability and economic prosperity. Unfortunately, much of Thailand is still underdeveloped—making access to education difficult, especially in the northern and eastern regions. These regions are populated by marginalized groups like refugees, subsistence farmers, and other ethnic minorities creating distinct economic inequalities. With education, as well as improved infrastructure, these regions would be able to better combat poverty, child trafficking, and the spread of diseases.
- 1. Clark, Nick. “Education in Thailand.” World Education News & Reviews. March 3, 2014. Accessed April 11, 2016.
- 2. “Education.” UNICEF Thailand. Accessed April 11, 2016.
Thailand fun facts!
Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia not to have been colonized.
In the late 13th Century, King Khamhaeng is credited for creating what is now the official Thai alphabet.
Thailand is called “The Land of the Smiles.”3
3. Gross, Lottie. “18 Facts You Didn’t Know About Thailand.” Rough Guides. (2014).
Did You Know?
About 90% of the Thai population (approximately 64 million) practices Buddhism.