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Hands-on schooling setting an example in Chiang Mai

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by Chularat Saengpassa

PHOTO: Padungkiat Jaiwong, far left, and fellow barbers of the “HK Barber” salon at Wat Huai Kaew School in Chiang Mai’s Mae On district show off their haircutting equipment.

“Take me to your heart, Take me to your soul. Give me your hand before I’m old, Show me what love is, haven’t got a clue, Show me that wonders can be true.”

15 year old Padungkiat Jaiwong is proud of his rendition of the Michael Learns to Rock hit, and said he was inspired to study the English language after his teacher encouraged him to start singing Western hits. In fact, he has even won a contest singing in English.

Apart from showing off his language skills to the visitors from the Equitable Education Fund, Padungkiat also displayed his talents in hairstyling.

“He is a living proof of what impact teachers and a good school can have on children,” EEF president Prasarn Trairatvorakul said.

Padungkiat, like many other children across the country, was at the risk of dropping out of school due to his family’s dire financial status. Previously, Padunkiat used to sneak out of his Wat Huai Kaew School in Chiang Mai’s Mae On district to play at a waterfall nearby with his friends. Truants, if ignored, usually drop out of school and miss out on a bright future.

Luckily, the Wat Huai Kaew School never took its 254 students for granted, and all 40 members of the teaching staff took it upon themselves to ensure these children have a good future. So, every year, the teachers make time to visit the home of every student, so they can learn more about the child and come up with a specific solution for the problems he or she faces.

“We learned that some students simply skip class because they cannot follow what is being taught. For them, I think vocational skills would be more useful, so I encourage them to take haircutting classes,” teacher Phimrada Songchueb explained.

Hands-on schooling setting an example in Chiang Mai | News by The Thaiger

Padungkiat and his friends have now been successfully running the HK Barber salon, offering students haircuts for 5 to 10 baht each. The earnings are split between the young barbers and the school, which provides the equipment.

“Our young barbers spend their earnings on educational trips,” Phimrada said.

Despite being a teacher, Phimrada usually treats her students like friends, so she can learn about their problems and perspectives.

“You will get a different answer if you ask questions like a teacher,” she said.

Hands-on schooling setting an example in Chiang Mai | News by The Thaiger

Teacher Phimrada Songchueb

According to her, children in the provinces usually fall silent when asked about their dreams because they don’t really know what they should want. Most of them are from poor families and for them the most common form of making a living is by working in farms or taking odd jobs. That’s why Phimrada has been trying to expose her students to different vocations, and also helps look for scholarships so they can further their studies at vocational colleges. Also, thanks to Phimrada, students like Padungkiat are allowed to spend nights in school from Monday to Friday as part of a special deal for children who need extra help and live quite far away.

Phimrada said after Padungkiat started living in school he was no longer absent during the rainy season.

“I don’t think he is at risk of becoming a dropout anymore,” she said.

Padungkiat has earned the nickname of “Sodsai” (bright and cheerful) in school because this term describes his character and life now. He now enjoys studying, working at the HK Barber and singing songs in English. Though he cannot understand every word he sings, he says it is fun and it is encouraging him to try harder in English class. His new found talent is also giving him hope that maybe he could earn some extra cash as a singer, while furthering his studies at a vocational college in the near future.

EEF chief Prasarn said this school has proved that having the right teachers was more important than money when it comes to child development.

“Wat Huai Kaew School pays attention to all aspects of the children,” he said.

Principal Opart Intasan said teachers have been visiting their students’ homes for more than two decades already.

Hands-on schooling setting an example in Chiang Mai | News by The Thaiger

Principal Opart Intasan

“These visits are important, as it allows the teachers to see their students’ living conditions and also to know more about them,” Opart said.

For instance, he said, the teachers once visited a child at home to find out why he could not understand what was on the blackboard.

“In the visit, the teachers learned that the child had some eye problems. So, the teacher had the child moved to the front row and started using new techniques in the classroom,” Opart said.

Opart Under his leadership, the Wat Huai Kaew School tries to help the students as much as it can. For instance, if a teacher finds out that a student doesn’t have a mosquito net at home, the school will look for donors on Facebook.

“That way, we can get mosquito nets for our student,” the headmaster said.

Hands-on schooling setting an example in Chiang Mai | News by The Thaiger

STORY: The Nation

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Crime

50 dogs rescued from alleged Chiang Mai puppy farm

Jack Burton

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50 dogs rescued from alleged Chiang Mai puppy farm | The Thaiger
PHOTOS: Sanook

A raid on an alleged puppy farm owned by an American man in Chiang Mai has resulted in the rescue of some 50 Thai Ridgeback dogs. Non-profit organisation Watchdog Thailand says most of the dogs were found in terrible condition and many more had died from illness and starvation.

The owner claimed the dogs were kept as pets and he was not breeding them for sale, but evidence indicated otherwise. Tiny cages were stacked on top of each other. The animals had no space to play or exercise. Their waste was everywhere, and some were still left where they had died.

Watchdog Thailand representatives went to the Sarapee Police Station in Chiang Mai to file animal cruelty charges against the 73 year old American man, who they claim has been breeding Thai Ridgebacks to sell and export to buyers abroad. The owner himself contacted Watchdog asking for help, claiming that he’s become ill and can no longer take care of his “pets” – more than 50 dogs. Watchdog went the location and discovered the dogs living in extremely unhygienic conditions. Most had scabies and were starving. They immediately contacted the police and the Chiang Mai Department of Livestock Development.

Representatives rescued the dogs and moved them to the Save Elephant Foundation in Mae Rim district. The man would not give up 5 dogs that were still healthy. The foundation disagreed as, by his own admission, the man lacks the ability to care for them. Watchdog realised that they needed police involvement to help save the remaining 5 dogs.

Animal lovers abroad report that the man has a history of animal cruelty. He has allegedly been breeding and selling the dogs at very high prices without a license. Watchdog Thailand wants to bring all the dogs into their care, and the the Chaing Mai DLD agrees that the man can no longer take responsibility for them. He has filed a police report claiming that Watchdog stole his dogs.

50 dogs rescued from alleged Chiang Mai puppy farm | News by The Thaiger

SOURCES: Thai Residents | Sanook | Watchdog Thailand

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Thailand

Thailand growing more expensive for expats

Jack Burton

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Thailand growing more expensive for expats | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Business Traveller

According to Employment Conditions Abroad, Bangkok and Chiang Mai are among the 30 most expensive cities for expats in Asia. The capital of Turkmenistan might not spring to mind when with considering the priciest cities, but according to ECA International it ranks first on both the global and Asian tables, a 5 point rise up the rankings due to an ongoing economic crisis, food shortages and the resulting hyperinflation.

The survey is performed in March and September every year, based on a basket of items such as rents and utility fees. Car prices and school fees are not included.

In Asia, Bangkok ranks 28th, just above Chiang Mai, according to the latest ECA International survey on the cost of living for expatriates. But it dropped out of the top 50 global rankings from the report released in December 2019. In global rankings, Bangkok is now at 60 and Chiang Mai at 142. Bangkok has lost a good deal of its former appeal for budget-conscious travellers and expatriates, rising 64 places over the past 5 years, according to the survey.

ECA says a rapidly expanding economy and increased foreign investment, at least, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, made Thailand more expensive, fuelled by the strengthening baht.

“The baht has strengthened considerably, making the country more expensive for expatriates and tourists. However, this trend has slowed over the past year, partly in response to government attempts to weaken the baht in order to keep the country competitive.”

Hong Kong is the second most expensive city in Asia after Ashgabat (Turkmenistan), but ahead of Tokyo and Singapore. Singapore is rated the most expensive place for expats in Southeast Asia and has led that ranking for many years.

Hong Kong remains sixth in the global standings, 1 place ahead of the Japanese capital. Singapore was fourteenth in Asia, dropping 2 notches from the previous survey.

Ashgabat’s sudden rise to the top of the is largely attributable to the economic dilemmas of Turkmenistan’s government, according to ECA. The energy-rich Central Asian nation faces severe inflation, and a black market for foreign currencies has caused the cost of imports to rise. Both factors have sparked a large increase in the costs visitors pay.

The ECA says Chinese cities fell across the board due to signs of a weakening economy and poorly performing currency, even before Covid-19 began taking its toll.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai International Airport sees more traffic

Jack Burton

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Chiang Mai International Airport sees more traffic | The Thaiger
PHOTO: mychiangmaitravel.com

Northern Thailand’s gateway airport is recovering some of its flight and passenger traffic. With the easing of travel restrictions enforced to fight the spread of Covid-19, the director of Chiang Mai’s international airport says traffic is picking up, and more flights and passengers are expected this month. On average, the airport received 40 flights and about 4,000-5,000 passengers per day last month. The number of flights is expected to rise to an average of 68 a day, and passenger figures are predicted to jump 50% this month.

Currently, flights operate only on domestic routes including those between Chiang Mai and other hub airports: U-Tapao, Hat Yai, Ubon Ratchathani, and Udon Thani. International flights are likely to return slowly after the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand announced the lifting of the ban on international flights, under a set of restriction, effective on June 29.

Analysts agree inbound flights will not quickly return to pre-Covid levels, as air travel to and from the main markets remains suspended.

The CAAT’s announcement coincided with the release of the International Air Transport Association’s figures for passenger demand in May, which dropped 91.3% compared to the same time last year. This was a mild improvement from the 94% annual decline recorded in April.

The IATA’s director-general and CEO, says there’s tremendous uncertainty about what impact a resurgence of Covid-19 cases in key markets could have.

“May was not quite as terrible as April. That’s about the best thing that can be said.”

International passenger demand fell 98.3% year on year in May, virtually unchanged from the 98.4% recorded in April. Capacity plummeted 95.3%, and load factor sank 51.9 percentage points to 28.6%, meaning just over a quarter of seats, on average, were filled.

Financially struggling Thai Airways said yesterday, that its passenger numbers fell by 4.5 million to 3.5 million in the first 5 months of the year. The airline’s cabin factor, the percentage of available seating capacity actually filled by passengers, tumbled to 69%, down from 78% in the same period last year.

The figures were calculated before the national flag carrier suspended all flights in early May due to the pandemic, although the airline had already been in the red long before that. With a debt burden of 244.9 billion baht, the airline is awaiting the Central Bankruptcy Court’s decision on whether to admit its petition for debt rehabilitation on Aug 18. If the court accepts the case for a hearing, a rehab plan will be drawn up – subject to approval from creditors.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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