Southern border schools have funding problem to stage extra-curricular activities for students
Since the Education Ministry’s launch of the programme to reduce the classroom hours of students and to increase ex-curricular activities, a total of 95 schools in the three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat have joined the programme.
These include 35 schools in Pattani, 23 in Yala and37 in Narathiwat. All of them are attached to the Office of Basic Education Commission.
But one big question has popped up in the minds of quite a few people – that is are these schools ready to participate in the programme given the wellknown facts that the main concern of these schools in the region is security problem and teachers have to be escorted back and forth from homes and schools all the time?
However, a random survey shows that the main problems encountered by these schools are the lack of fund to stage extra-curricular activities for the students and security rearrangement because of the change of the school closing hours from 3.30 pm to 4 pm.
Mr Boonsom Thongsriplai, president of the Federation of Teachers in the Three Southern Border Provinces, said he found the programme useful but there is a security concern due to the change of the school closing hours.
Even security for the teachers has improved with less teachers killed this year compared to last year, he said that he found it necessary to raise the problem with Lt-Gen Wiwath Pathompark, commander of the 4th army region.
Teachers however thought differently. For example, Mr Prachak Chusri, director of Muang Pattani school, told Isranews that security is not a problem of main concern. The main problem is the lack of funding to stage the activities for students.
“For instance, if we are to a music class, then we should have musical instruments. Or if the students want to learn classical dances, we should have teachers who can teach the dances,” said Mr Prachak.
Ms Wiyada Promthong, a teacher at Pattani kindergarten school, cited for an example that the school has introduced an activity to teach the kids on how to blow balloons but the school has no budget to buy the balloons. So the teachers will have to advance their money to buy the balloons and to claim the money back later on, she said.
Some schools have resorted to recruiting members of the communities to join the programme to ease the problem of funding shortage. Mrs Nareerat Sien-in, director of Ban Klong Khood Taladnud in Nong Chik district of Pattani, said the school had asked some parents to teach students how to make local sweets or handmade products.
Parents, meanwhile, welcome the programme saying that they children will have more time relaxing instead of being crammed with textbooks.
One of the parents, Mrs Patimor Kamae, said her children leave home for school at 7.30 am and return home at four in the afternoon after which they will have to attend religious class until 8 pm. Then during the weekends, they have to attend Tadika school in the village, she added.
A student of Ban Pongkuwae in Yaha district of Yala, Ms Koriyo Ngortadee, said students were used to extra-curricular activities already because their teachers had many meetings.
She said her teacher often told the students to read or to do their homework when she went for meetings.