“Local Teachers” the Inspiration toward Learning and Returning to Hometown.

The story of Police Senior Sergeant Major (POL.SEN.SGT.MAJ.) Wilai “Peung” Thanawipasri, who builds the inspiration for students of the Border Patrol Police schools to return and develop their hometown.

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“When they [students] look at us, they will realize that education brings a better future in which the Border Patrol Police schools can provide both education and life skills,”
stated POL.SEN.SGT.MAJ. Wilai “Peung” Thanawipasri, headteacher of Ban Huai Salung Border Patrol Police School.

How should a ‘quality local school’ be? What indicates that a school is serving the needs of the local?

The most important and fundamental indicators are students’ regular school attendance and enjoyment, along with educational goals in their minds. Welcare should be available at school to support every student in terms of lunch, learning aids and resources, for instance.

The Equitable Education Fund (EEF) works on school improvement by the indications and is making massive progress on uplifting the quality of schools thanks to their cooperation. The improvement of schools in remote areas demonstrates a concrete and effective example as many of the Border Patrol Police schools have flourished. This article introduces how the projects under the EEF supervision work and shares the conversation with a teacher representative as a case study.

The work process of the projects under EEF

One of the EEF projects known among the educational industry as well as the public is the long-standing Khuruthayat, the program that produces teachers for local development by the Ministry of Education. Students with good performance, behavior, and the intention to study and return to their origin are endowed with scholarship in a specific field. Accordingly, they must return and enroll as an enlisted teacher at a local school.

The EEF has currently worked on another similar project which is Kru Rak Thin. The project originated from the cooperation between 6 educational organizations including Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI), Ministry of Education (MOE), Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC), Office of the Teacher Civil Service and Educational Personnel Commission (OTEPC) and Secretariat Office of the Teachers Council of Thailand (Khurusapha) to advocate scholarships, one generation with 300 scholarships whereby 5 generations sum up all 1,500 scholarships available. This illustrates a more substantial ratio compared to Khuruthayat. Kru Rak Thin is an opportunity for students who wish to become a teacher. Those whose households reside in remote areas and gain the lowest income, especially the first 20 percent of the country will be presented with a scholarship of a Bachelor’s Degree in Education studies. In turn, they have to make a comeback as a teacher at their own local school.

Khuruthayat, the teachers for local development program, and Kru Rak Thin hold a similar objective which is teacher competency development in order that teachers can generate changes for students and the community. The two projects are profitable to rural areas especially the borderline where a number of students are biding their time for educational opportunities. As soon as those projects reach remote areas, schools will have enough teachers and students will have better education. The qualified graduates will join the program to become a teacher which helps lessen the scarcity of teachers.

Why should problems of schools in border areas be fixed?

One of the schools under the EEF project is Haui Salung Border Patrol Police school. Teachers, students, parents and everyone in the school, together, have collaborated to build the visionary school for children in the community concentrating on joyful learning and everyday self-development. All of the mentioned might have been hardly possible without the main character and guide, Wilai Thanawiphasri, headteacher of Haui Salung Border Patrol Police school.

POL.SEN.SGT.MAJ. Wilai, “Pueng”, headteacher, stated that it is effortless to understand the nature of local children and the community because she is one of them. She is a teacher who happened to return and work in her hometown. By the time of high school graduation, Pol.Snr.Sgt.Maj. Wilai learned about the Khuruthayat project announcement, welcoming the Border Patrol Police schools’ alumnas who finished the highest grade. She then joined the competitive police officer examinations. After passing the test, she attended the course and had the Border Patrol Police ground training for 3 months before entering teacher competency training for 6 months. Finally, she was qualified to become a Border Patrol Police teacher and returned to perform the duty at her hometown.

“My home and school, in the past, were in underdeveloped areas. No other types of school were available, except for the Border Patrol Police schools. There were classrooms ranging from grade 1, the lowest, to grade 4, the highest. After the 4th grade, one had to move to other nearby schools around 2 kilometers away to proceed in grade 5 and grade 6. They are schools under the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC).”

Teacher Peung had an interesting view on the former type of educational pattern in the Border Patrol Police schools regarding the curriculum, learning features, and problems that need to be solved as follows

“Educational management of the Border Patrol Police schools back in the day was part of the Ministry of Education curriculum. There were about 4 Border Patrol Police teachers. The learning method mostly focused on literacy. The academics, examinations and school lunch projects appeared to be less evident compared to these days.
Once in a while someone would come and donate food. Students had to walk back home for lunch or a package made of banana leaf filled with meals to school. Most of the food is simple, such as rice with chili paste. Sponsors from the city would pay a visit to provide children with fine lunch for some week or month. Teachers would sometimes cook us a free lunch,”

headteacher of Ban Huai Salung narrated her life while she was a student.

The first to-do factor is community development

Haui Salung Border Patrol Police school where Teacher Pueng was appointed a headteacher is a school that was built from the needs of people in the community. People in Huai Salung community, M.8, Phra That sub-district, Mae Ramat District, Tak province are Pakakeryo people who immigrated from uplands to settle in the area and adhere to self-employment. They are poor people. Since there was no school available for the children,

they originally had to study at Ban Tung Makham Pom school which is around 4.2 kilometers away. People of the Ban Huai Salung then made a request for school establishment in the community to Border Patrol Police Sub-Division 34 to organize Ban Huai Salung Border Patrol Police learning center which was open on May 16th, 2017. Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi (RMUTT) has given a favor to the school buildings with the budget allocation and the workforce who are student volunteers of the 3 institutes including RMUTT, Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna (RMUTL) and Rajamangala University of Technology Suvarnabhumi (RMUTSB). The lead time of the construction ran 35 days to complete the 3 main buildings which are the 47th, 48th and 49th Rajamangala Buildings.

After the school was formed and as soon as Teacher Peung was in charge of headteacher, the school and community developments for the better was initiated among the cooperation of school personnel, parents, and people in the community. Community development is a vital factor, because with the 4 necessities of life, children will be prepared to utterly grasp the knowledge in the classroom.

“Better transportation and more facilities improve the condition of the community and school today. The school[Ban Huai Salung Border Patrol Police school] implements the same management as that of the Border Patrol Police schools, embracing both theories and practices for children. We focus on practices, such as gardening and farming in accordance with royal initiative projects. Given that modern parents are educated and aware of the importance of education, almost all students go to school. On the contrary, education rates were unpopular among parents in the past, and with the low quality of life and poverty, children would appear in the farm during the harvest season.”

Happiness is the heart of learning

Teacher Peung believed that development in every aspect will make children happy, and happiness is the basis of a good life. Happiness comes from realizing the benefits of academic study, life skills, and the fundamental wellness. If schools can prepare for these factors, students will put their minds to learning for their own future.

“When they[students] see me, they will reckon they can have a better future from paying attention to learning, in which Border Patrol Police schools can give them both education and life skills. I used to visit the house of a student who was always absent to find the answer. The main reason is only because of health problems and illnesses. No students skip classes here. They come to school as happy as they are,”

said Teacher Pueng.

The role model of Kru Rak Thin

Teacher Peung lastly mentioned her pride in her success that became an example to many students. Teacher Peung was a graduate from the Border Patrol Police school who continued and finished her education in the city, and was given the opportunity to return to her hometown as a teacher. Her story is a significant inspiration that partially convinces students to go to school and improve their grades for higher education before returning to develop the community as what Teacher Peung is doing.

Dr. Udom Wongsingha, director of the Teachers and Schools development office of the EEF stated that he wished the new generation of teachers would pursue the projects as did POL.SEN.SGT.MAJ. Wilai. Some problems faced and solved by Teacher Peung, or the problem-solving technique she has that theory cannot provide is the realization of characteristics and nature of the community. The future teachers should look up to Teacher Pueng. This notion is shaped by local knowledge to create a comprehension from different basics in different areas. Various ethnicities and cultures happen to have their specific learning context in a lesson.

The EEF projects which aim to solve the community problems straight to the point, Kru Rak Thin in particular, then set up goals to fulfill the EEF scholars with visibility that fieldworks and practices contribute to educational opportunities apart from textbooks.For that reason, they can build a body of local knowledge, return as a teacher in their homeland, make others realize the importance of taking care of one another, and sustainably develop the local livelihood.

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