Harnessing nature for the future

Harnessing nature for the future

Nakhon Si Thammarat school teaches lessons in conservation and self-sufficiency in programme based on late king's legacy

Director of Ban Pak Duat school, Oumpornrat Somjit, along with students and parents prepare to lay down buoys for growing mussles at Pak Duat beach in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Pongsak Kanjanaphak
Director of Ban Pak Duat school, Oumpornrat Somjit, along with students and parents prepare to lay down buoys for growing mussles at Pak Duat beach in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Pongsak Kanjanaphak

It may sound like a mouthful, but students and parents at Ban Pak Duat primary school in Tha Sala district of this southern province feel proud to be a part of the school's sustainable development learning programme.

They are learning about the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Self-Sufficiency Economy Theory of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great.

"I'm happy to learn these two new things from school," said Prathomsuksa 5 student Anda Viyarit. "I have learnt a lot from them."

"They teach me to improve my personal and resource [management skills to] look at what it means to be self-reliant," she said.

Anda said the school taught her how to produce dried fish and shrimp paste and grow vegetables such as morning glory, Chinese cabbage and roselle.

She said she applies the knowledge she gained from the school to grow roselle in a garden at home to make dried roselle flowers. The 11-year-old girl sells them to vendors at local markets.

"I have a dream of becoming an English language teacher. I like English," Anda said. "I hope to return to teach at this school."

Anda is among 72 students from the school given the opportunity this year to learn about the UN's SDGs and King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great's theory on self-sufficiency.

In 2019, when the school first introduced this learning programme, there were only 30 students attending lessons.

The programme is aimed at encouraging students and their parents to learn how to maximise their skills and the kingdom's natural resources with the goal of being self-reliant.

The goal is to enable students and parents to earn a living from the lessons they learn from the programme's activities.

Anda was joined by her two friends Ananda Borisuth and Poramate Sae-Ciean, both 11. They said they had fun learning about sustainability at the school.

They said they enjoyed growing a mangrove forest in their community and helping collect rubbish at Pak Duat beach in front of the school.

They also helped their parents raise mussels at Pak Duat beach, which they use to make fish sauce for sale, with the knowledge they obtained from the programme.

"We want to grow more mangrove trees in our community for aquatic animals to inhabit," Ananda said. "We expect there will be more aquatic animals in the sea so that our parents can catch more fish and earn more money."

Adul Sakolviroj, 66, head of a group of parents at the school, said the programme is beneficial to his community.

"I am proud to be part of the learning programme. It helped us a lot," Mr Adul said. "Parents at the school have more experience [now] on how to develop our community and be more sustainable."

The community and school have a plan to run a homestay business next year, he said.

Background

Suvet Klubsri, director of Nakhon Si Thammarat Primary Education Service Area Office 4, introduced the concepts of UN SDGs and the late king's self-sufficiency economic theory to students and parents in 2019.

The office selected five schools in the province to join the programme, including Ban Pak Duat school in Tha Sala district, Ban Klong Wang school in Khanom, Ban Klong Teen Ped in Sichon, Ban Nop Phi Tam school in Nob Phi Tam and Wat Sak Hlek school in Phrommakhiri.

Oumpornrat Somjit, director of Ban Pak Duat school, told the Bangkok Post that her school introduced various subjects and activities on SDG concepts and the late king's economic theory so students and parents can learn about them.

Ms Oumpornrat said the concepts and theory are about environment conservation and poverty eradication, adding that the school has provided its students with the chance to learn about the environment and how they can help conserve the environment.

She noted that a polluted environment would negatively impact the lives of people in her community.

Students also learn how to dye fabric and process a variety of food products, Ms Oumpornrat said.

Ms Oumpornrant said the majority of students in her school are from low-income families and that their parents are fishermen.

"If these students cannot further their education, at least they can earn money from doing things they learn from school," she said.

Amnart Sutin, deputy director of the Nakhon Si Thammarat Primary Education Service Area Office 4, said implementing SDG concepts and the late king's theory at Ban Pak Duat school sets his school apart from the other four.

He credits this to strong cooperation among members of his community, teachers, students and office executives.

Mr Amnart said the project at Ban Pak Duat school can help students learn about how to run their own businesses or earn more income after finishing their study, while the community can help preserve the environment and local wisdom as the latter is in line with the self-sufficient economy theory and UN SDGs.

The late king's theory

Pongsak Kanjanaphak, education supervisor at the Nakhon Si Thammarat Primary Education Service Area Office 4, said the agency has thrown its full support behind the five schools in Nakhon Si Thammarat so they can implement and integrate SDG and self-sufficient economy ideas in their school's development since 2019.

The government adopted UN SDGs in 2015 and ordered all state agencies to cooperate with the private sector in drive sustainable development in the kingdom.

SDGs, also known as Global Goals, were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a response to a universal call to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that by 2030 all people around the world can enjoy peace and prosperity.

There are 17 SDGs that are integrated, meaning they recognise that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that economic development must have a balance of social, economic and environmental aspects.

The self-sufficient economic theory was initiated by the late king, who paved the way for the nation to be self-reliant.

It can also serve as a guide for individuals, firms and families to understand their economic capabilities and manage their resources to survive.

Mr Pongsak says the two bodies of knowledge was first implemented at the five schools in 2019, but the project is expected to be expanded to additional schools by 2025.

The five schools volunteered to take part, he says.

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