Teachers in the deep South should go to work in armoured vehicles in high-risk areas, army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said.
A security plan for teachers in the strife-torn region has been reviewed several times as authorities work to prevent attacks by insurgents, Gen Prayuth said.
He had recently proposed to the government's committee for strategic development of the southernmost provinces that state agencies meet to find ways to ensure teachers' safety.
In addition to armoured commutes, Gen Prayuth also suggested that soldiers be temporarily assigned to replace school teachers in the far South where needed.
Many soldiers and police officers in the region have also been trained as school teachers.
If the government agreed with the proposal, the military was ready to send its teaching personnel, he said.
Soldiers alone could not provide around-the-clock protection, he said, adding police and village defence volunteers must help guard the teachers.
If soldiers were not available, police must be sent to escort the teachers to and from work, Gen Prayuth said.
Defence volunteers should be responsible for areas less prone to violence.
In high-risk areas, armoured military vehicles should be used to transport the teachers, the army chief said.
"Teachers will have to travel in armoured vehicles if they have to pass through areas with heavy insurgent activity. We have worked to our fullest capacity to protect the lives of innocent people," he said, and urged all sides to help bring peace back to the region.
The unrest has claimed many lives and cost the government vast amounts of money.
Gen Prayuth insisted the situation in the region has gradually improved.
He said he would instruct security forces under the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) to be on extra high alert during the New Year holidays.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, as chairwoman of the Isoc, and Defence Minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat have asked for more checkpoints on roads, Gen Prayuth said.
Provincial governors would assign police and defence volunteers to guard downtown areas as part of security measures during the New Year period.
The army chief spoke before leaving for the far South to offer moral support to soldiers there.
A source said navy chief Adm Surasak Rounroengrom is returning from a visit to the far South today, while ACM Sukumpol was due to tour Narathiwat yesterday afternoon.
ACM Sukumpol said yesterday the army was in the process of selecting teaching soldiers.
He will discuss with education minister as to when they will be deployed.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung yesterday insisted he would not interfere in the strategic operation of security authorities in the far South as the military has been assigned to handle the operation.
His task as deputy premier supervising national security was to work with state agencies and integrate their efforts to tackle the unrest.
He said he would hold a video conference on security matters tomorrow with police and the governors concerned.
About the author
- Writer: Wassana Nanuam