Small schools unite to survive
AYUTTHAYA - Given a choice to unite or die, three small schools in tambon Thai Noi of Bang Ban district have launched a programme to join classes, improve education quality and survive the education ministry's project to close the country's smallest schools.
- Published: 14/05/2013 at 05:58 PM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Raksak Srithong (left) and Samrueng Boonlam show certificates of the success of their students. (Photo by Sunthon Pongpao)
The three schools jointly have 174 students - 72 in Wat Prasart Thong school, 49 at Wat Thai Noi school and 53 in the classes at Wat Boonkannawas.
Samrueng Boonlam, acting director of the three schools, said students in kindergarten through Prathom (grade) 3 will study at the school closest to their homes to ensure safety and convenience. Their parents or grandparents generally walk the tykes to school.
When students reach Prathom (grade) 4, however, all will study at Wat Prasart Thong school, no matter which village they come from. Prathom 5 students will attend Wat Thai Noi school and all Prathom 6 students study at Wat Boonkannawas. During the last school year, there were 24, 17 and 14 students respectively in the three grades, with a total of 16 teachers split among the three facilities.
The three schools are in a radius of about two kilometres. The students furthest away are transported to class daily by song thaew mini-buses.
Mr Samrueng said students in Prathom 4-6 are old enough to travel, so the system of joint classrooms has solved the problem of insufficient teachers and too-small classes. It also has allowed students to have more friends from other schools, and improve community relationships.
He said good management and cooperation among teachers and villagers have made the programme work, and kept it within budget and numbers of teachers allocated by the Education Ministry.
The schools conducted a public survey asking parents and communities about dissolving one or two of the small schools, but each community insisted on maintaining its traditional school, which elders say goes back 60-70 years.
"I insist that small schools can survive," said Mr Samrueng. "The cooperation from all parties has caused the success."
All students graduated from these three schools have continued their higher education and the schools have won several scholastic awards.
However, he agreed with the Education Ministry's policy to provide a van for schools, to provide more safety than the song thaew.
He also said the ministry's policy on dissolving small school should be carried out on a selective basis, depending on the needs and desires of communities, and the ability of schools to provide quality education. One success factor is the establishment of a network of teachers and parents at each school, along with the determination of teachers and executives.
Raksak Srithong, a teacher at Wat Prasart Thong school, said local schools are as valuable to a community as its temple or other centre. There are 10 villages in tambon Thai Noi, with three primary schools, so the villagers want to keep all schools open as long as possible.
About the author
- Writer: Sunthon Pongpao