PATTANI : Teachers fearful about their safety are being warned that mass closures of schools across Pattani could result in conflicts with parents.
The warning was raised Wednesday by education researcher Ahmad Somboon Bualuang as the closure of more than 300 schools in Pattani continued for a second day.
The mass closure had been announced by the Confederation of Teachers of Southern Border Provinces.
The confederation has agreed to reopen schools tomorrow, said Pattani governor Pramuk Lamun.
Many parents have questioned the usefulness of closures while many schools, including private institutions, remained open.
Private Islamic schools as well as provincial and municipal-run schools in Pattani municipality and schools in tambon Puyut in Muang district continued with classes as usual.
Mr Ahmad said he is worried that future closures will create further tension between teachers and parents. The quality of instruction at many state-run schools is often criticised by parents, he said.
Additional closures will only add to Pattani's burdens, as it struggles against the insurgency and daily violence, Mr Ahmad added.
The confederation decided to close the schools after Nanthana Kaewchan, 51, director of Ban Tha Kam Sam School in Nong Chick district, was gunned down last Thursday despite security measures in place to protect teachers.
Schools will reopen after the royal cremation of Nanthana today.
Teachers and school administrators in the Muslim-dominated provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat met 4th Army chief Lt Gen Udomchai Thamsarorat on Tuesday after the incident. They agreed to bolster teachers' safety by reviewing security plans every month.
The confederation is also asking education officials to consider increasing monthly risk allowances for teachers in insurgency-plagued provinces.
Mr Ahmad said more security is clearly needed, but closing schools is not the answer. Developing a school curriculum that better fits the Muslim community would be a better strategy than closures, he said.
Meanwhile, in Narathiwat, Nueang Noiiad, the director of Ban Thung To school in Muang district, said he disagrees with army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha's proposal to have teachers board at schools to avoid attacks.
Living in schools will only put them at more risk, said Mr Nueang, noting that even military bases face attacks by rebel groups.
He said concentrating teachers in one location would make them more vulnerable to attacks.
In another development, police have identified a rebel group believed to be involved in the killing of Nanthana.
Police found cartridges left at the crime scene, which match those obtained after an insurgent attack in Khok Pho and Nong Chick districts in Pattani, authorities said.
Daily violence continued in Pattani yesterday, when Suwan Kaeosino, 45, a former village chief assistant, was shot dead while getting into a pickup truck to travel home. A 35-year-old defence volunteer, Ong-at Inthakan, was also injured in the attack.
The shots were fired by four unidentified men on motorcycles, believed to be members of an insurgent group, police said.
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Writer: Abdulloh Benjakat & Waedao Harai