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Yesterday was Teacher's Day and four Thai teachers from very different circumstances were presented medals by the PM. 

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Putting their heart into a tough job

Award-winning teachers beat the odds in pursuit of dreams

Lamphai Intathep

Thinking of you: Phatcharee Niphila, a disabled student from KhamkaenNakhon School in Khon Kaen province, makes a Teachers’ Day card for her teachers. THITI WANNAMONTHA

One teacher works in a remote, mountainous area. Another educates children in one of the country's poorest areas. One of their contemporaries braves the dangers of the restive South, while yet another oversees a school in the capital.

Despite their wildly different profiles, the four share one admirable trait – they have given their heart to teaching.

And this quality has seen them all win awards as part of the national Teachers' Day yesterday.

Supittaya Temeyakalin, Siriphon Man-ngan, Sattha Hongthong and Siriyupa Sakuntasathien have been recognised by the Office of the Basic Education Commission as "great teachers with ideology" at the annual event.

The award remembers Juling Pongkanmoon, a teacher beaten to death at her school in Narathiwat in 2008.

"It is quite easy to be [appointed as] a teacher but not everyone can be a true teacher," said Ms Supittaya, director of Saljiangtong School in Mae Hong Son's Mae Sariang district.

She and the three other award winners were clearly delighted with the recognition from the Education Ministry and by receiving their awards yesterday from Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

For 50-year-old Supittaya, the essence of teaching means educating children with determination and without prejudice.

Education must be provided equally to all children, regardless of their race, religion or language, she said. "All children in Thailand must have access to education and, more importantly, education should be free of any discrimination," she said.

There is no better example of her philosophy than at her school.

The school of six teachers provides an education to 160 marginalised pupils, all of them ethnic Thai Yai or Karen, from kindergarten to primary level.

Hilltribe parents were reluctant in the past to send their children to school due to the financial burden, but this way of thinking has been overturned somewhat, thanks to the government's 15-year free education policy, which covers tuition fees and school meals.

"The attitudes of hilltribe parents towards education is improving. Most of them now allow their children to go to school," Ms Supittaya said.

Ms Siriphon teaches Nyah Kur, another ethnic group, in addition to Thai and disabled students at Ban Wang Ai Kong School in Thep Sathit district in Chaiyaphum.

The 49-year-old makes sure all 230 students are treated equally despite the language differences.

The school director launched the country's first textbook in the Nyah Kur language when some pupils had difficulties with the Thai language.

"The Nyah Kur language textbook is aimed at communicating with hilltribe students. And it also helps preserve the rare language of Nyah Kur, which is among 15 languages used by ethnic groups which have been listed as nearly extinct," Ms Siriphon said.

As poverty still plagues many villagers in the school's catchment area, Ms Siriphon has to convince parents that money should not be an obstacle to their children receiving an education.

The school made a deal with parents which allowed students to take one day off school each week to work, she said. "Each day [a student] goes to school means [the family] loses 180 baht," said Ms Siriphon, quoting the national minimum wage.

Mr Sattha , director of Ban Klong Nam Sai School in Yala's Kabang district, said teachers' morale in the troubled southernmost provinces was low because of violence in the region.

His school was set on fire by insurgents on June 13, 2007, but he decided to stay on even though he had a chance to move to a safer province.

The reason was simple – the 51-year-old said "no one will come here" if he left.

Ms Siriyupa, director of Suksanari School in Bangkok's Thon Buri district, called for a clear direction on education reform, as it would directly affect the future of her students.

"The pros and cons of any change in education, as well as how it may affect students, must be studied thoroughly before it is enforced in order to avoid trouble later on," said the 60-year-old.

In addition, she would like to see the government provide more support to students who won medals in international competitions.

"Their accomplishments should not end with the medals given to them.

"They cannot move on [to a higher level] without continuing support," said Ms Siriyupa, who will retire at the end of this year.

tough – difficult to do or to deal with ยาก  ยากลำบาก
award – a prize or a sum of money that is given to someone following an official decision รางวัล
beat the odds – defy the odds; achieving something that seems impossible or very unlikely  ประสบความสำเร็จในกรณีที่มีโอกาสน้อยมาก
in the pursuit of – in trying to achieve การพยายามให้ถึงความต้องการ
remote – far away from other cities, towns, or people ที่ห่างไกล
contemporary – a person who lives or lived at the same time as somebody else, especially somebody who is about the same age คนร่วมสมัย
brave – to deal with an unpleasant or difficult situation in order to achieve something กล้าที่จะเผชิญกับ
restive – (of a group of people) impatient or becoming difficult to control because they are dissatisfied วุ่นวาย ไม่สงบ ควบคุมยาก ดื้อรั้น หัวแข็ง
oversee – to watch or organise a job or an activity to make certain that it is being done correctly คุมงาน,ควบคุม
capital – the most important town or city of a country, usually where the central government operates from  เมืองหลวง
wildly – extremely; very
profile – a description of somebody/something that gives useful information  ประวัติโดยย่อ
share – to have the same feelings, ideas, experiences, etc. as somebody else
quality – a thing that is part of a person's character, especially something good คุณลักษณะ
admirable – having qualities that you admire and respect น่าชมเชย, น่าชื่นชม, น่ายกย่อง
trait – a characteristic that can produce a particular type of behavior ลักษณะพิเศษ
recognise – to give praise or approval to someone or something เป็นที่ชื่นชม ยกย่อง
ideology – system of ideas and principles on which a political, social or economic theory is based แนวคิดอันเป็นรากฐานของสังคม เศรษฐกิจและการเมือง
annual – happening once a year ประจำปี
beat – to hit someone violently several times ตี, เคาะ, หวด, ตบ, เฆี่ยน
delighted – very happy or satisfied about something ยินดีมาก,สุขใจ
essence – the most important part of something, usually the part that gives it its general character แก่น
determination – the quality that makes you continue trying to do something even when this is difficult   ความตั้งใจ, ความมุ่งมั่น, ความตั้งใจมั่น
access – having the opportunity to have or use something มีโอกาสในการใช้
discrimination – the practice of treating someone or a particular group in society less fairly than others การเลือกปฏิบัติ, การแบ่งแยก
regardless of – without being affected or influenced by anything else that happens or exists โดยไม่คำนึงถึง
race – one of the main groups that humans can be divided into according to their physical differences, for example the colour of their skin กลุ่มชาติพันธุ์, เผ่าพันธุ์
philosophy – a set of beliefs or an attitude to life that guides somebody's behaviour  ปรัชญา
marginalise – to make somebody feel as if they are not important and cannot influence decisions or events; to put somebody in a position in which they have no power  ทำให้ไม่มีความสำคัญ
ethnic– of a group of people with the same culture or traditions กลุ่มชนที่มีเชื้อชาติและเผ่าัพันธุ์เดียวกัน
kindergarten – a school for children, usually between the ages of two and five โรงเรียนอนุบาล
reluctant - not very willing to do something and therefore slow to do it ไม่เต็มใจ
burden – a serious or difficult responsibility that you have to deal with  ภาระ
overturn – to change a situation to the opposite พลิกคว่ำ
tuition fees – money paid to attend classes ค่าเล่าเรียน
meal – the food that you serve or eat at one time มื้ออาหาร
attitude – someone’s opinions or feelings about something, especially as shown by their behaviour ทัศนคติ, ลักษณะท่าทาง
improve – to get better  ดีขึ้น
disabled – having a condition, especially a physical one, that limits your activities in some way พิการ
launch – to start something เริ่มต้น เริ่มทำ
preserve – to keep something as it is, especially in order to prevent it from being damaged or destroyed ทำให้คงอยู่, สงวน
rare - uncommon, unusual ซึ่งหายาก
extinct – an extinct animal, plant, or language no longer exists สูญพันธุ์
poverty – the condition of being extremely poor ความจน
plague – to cause a lot of problems for someone or something for a long period of time ทำให้ยุ่งยากมานาน
catchment – the area from which a school takes its students, a hospital its patients, etc. พื้นที่รับนักเรียน
convince – to make somebody/yourself believe that something is true; to persuade somebody to do something ทำให้เชื่อ, ทำให้แน่ใจ, ชักจูง
obstacle – a difficulty or problem that prevents you from achieving something อุปสรรค ขวากหนาม
deal – a formal agreement การตกลงกัน
minimum – as small in amount or degree as necessary or possible จำนวนน้อยที่สุด, ปริมาณต่ำที่สุด
wage – an amount of money that you earn for working, usually according to how many hours or days you work each week or month ค่าจ้าง
morale – the amount of confidence and enthusiasm, etc. that a person or a group has at a particular time กำลังใจ, ขวัญ
violence – physical force with the deliberate intention of causing damage to property or injury or death to people ความรุนแรง
insurgent – someone who belongs to a group of people fighting to take control of their country or area by force กลุ่มกบฏ
direction – the general way in which a person or thing develops ทิศทาง, การชี้ทาง
reform – a change that is intended to correct a situation that is wrong or unfair การแก้ไข การปฏิรูป
pros and cons –  advantages and disadvantages ข้อดีและข้อเสีย
enforce – to make sure laws are obeyed บังคับให้ใช้,  บังคับให้ทำ, ใช้กำลังบังคับให้ปฏิบัติตาม
medal – a flat piece of metal, usually shaped like a coin, that is given to the winner of a competition or to somebody who has been brave, for example in war เหรียญรางวัล
accomplishment – something that is successful, or that is achieved after a lot of work or effort ความสำเร็จ, การบรรลุผล
retire – to stop working because you have reached the age where you are officially too old to work เกษียณอายุ

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