Phuket Gazette Thailand News: School closures bite; Forecast for abundance; Seh Daeng revival; Sudarat says no


– Thailand news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

School closings pressure parents
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Enrolling students every other year at primary school level could be one solution to the government’s controversial policy of closing small schools, a leading educator told a Bangkok seminar yesterday.

Other proposals included teaching three two-year classes, utilising self-centred teaching methods (dubbed constant curriculum) and transferring students to nearby larger schools, said Prof Theera Rooncharoen, chairman of the Career Development for Educational Management Association of Thailand.

“The quality of education does not always mean good grades. It also means happiness of students, their being good morally and academically,” he said.

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Setbacks to the existing public school system were frequent transfers of teachers, lack of teachers’ professionalism and good academic backgrounds, poor management, lack of teachers’ development and under use of technology in supporting education, he added.

One school hit by the government’s policy is Baan Khoke Mamuang School. With 10 students, it’s the smallest in Trang province.

With the start of the school term just two days away, acting director Somphorn Bunsongnak said a decision was made to send the students to Baan Khlong Teng School, 3km away. However, transportation for them has not been arranged. The school’s budget is Bt150 for daily transport, or Bt15 per student, is not enough for a motorcycle taxi. “I have to keep visiting the parents to convince them to take their children to the school,” said Somphorn, who is one of the school’s only two teachers.

In Ranong, 10 of the 86 schools have only students from migrants, said Phayab Osoth-charoen, an official with the provincial education office. “The office does not mind them studying in Thai-subsidised schools, but closing them or merging them with larger schools seems a better way to manage education,” he added.

At least five Ranong schools are slated for closure, regardless of the students’ nationalities.

Forecast for abundant crops, rain
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn yesterday presided over the Royal Ploughing Ceremony at Sanam Luang. HRH Princess Srirasmi accompanied him.
Predictions from the ceremony suggested abundant crops and huge rainfall this year.

Paddy fields in upland areas would prosper while those in low lying areas may face some damage, according to the predictions.

The forecasts were based on the choices of food selected by the Sacred Oxen, Phra Kho Fah and Phra Kho Sai, and a fabric piece chosen by the Lord of the Ploughing Ceremony.

The sacred oxen were offered seven bowls containing grass, paddy, corn, sesame seeds, soy bean, water and liquor. They chose to eat corn and grass.

Phraya Raek Na was offered three pieces of fabric, each with a different length. The one he selected proved to be one metre long.

The Royal Ploughing Ceremony ran from 8.19am to 8.59am yesterday.

Permanent secretary of the Agriculture Ministry Chawalit Chukhachorn served as Phraya Raek Na or the Lord of the Ploughing Ceremony.

This annual ceremony is held in May every year to boost the morale of farmers.

The Rice Department handed out 1,414 kilograms of rice seeds to the people gathering at Sanam Luang. The seeds came from the royal fields. Farmers usually keep the seeds for good luck.

Police to discuss slaying of Seh Daeng
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The police team probing the fatal shooting of red-shirt chief guard Maj Gen Khattiya “Seh Daeng” Sawasdiphol will meet next week to discuss progress on the case.

“We will try to wrap up the investigation as soon as possible,” Pol Maj-General Anuchai Lekbamrung, deputy of the Metropolitan Police and team head, said yesterday.

Khattiya was hit once in the head by a high-velocity bullet on May 13, 2010 while giving an interview to reporters in front of Silom subway station. He died four days later at Watchira Hospital.

Anuchai said his panel has completed inquiries into 32 out the 37 killings assigned to it, leaving only Khattiya and four other cases to finish.

Pheu Thai MP Khattiya, Seh Daeng’s daughter, and her sister gathered with 200 red shirts near the King Rama VI Monument to make merit on the third anniversary of his assassination.

At the spot where Seh Daeng was shot, the group placed a banner calling for those responsible to be identified.

In two other cases, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and MP Suthep Thaugsuban will report today to the Department of Special Investigation to acknowledge charges of authorising the murder of Kunakorn Srisuwan, then 14 years old, and the attempted murder of Samorn Maithong, a van driver who was wounded, when Abhisit was the prime minister and Suthep was his deputy, during the red-shirt uprising three years ago.

Both Abhisit and Suthep, who were in charge of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation, are likely to face similar scenarios, as prosecutors have sought 18 indictments related to 91 deaths during the political chaos three years ago. A conviction for authorising the killing of others is punishable by death.

Abhisit and Suthep were summoned on December 13 to hear a charge of authorising the killing of Pan Kamkong, a taxi driver and member of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship.

They both rejected the charges, which they said were politically motivated.

Police chief plays down attack on Thai Rath
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The weekend attack at the offices of Thai Rath newspaper was instigated by a “third party” but not aimed at hurting anyone, Metropolitan Police Bureau chief Pol Lt-General Khamronwit Thoopkrachang said yesterday.

The attacker merely wanted to stir things up and make it appear to be a political issue, he suggested.

The security box in front of the newspaper’s offices in Chatuchak district had been subjected to a firecracker and petanque-ball attack early Saturday morning.

Siroj Mingkwan, president of the Crime Reporters and Photographers Association of Thailand, said the attack looked to be of criminal intent.

Following the attack, Bang Sue police would check 40 security cameras in the vicinity of the Thai Rath daily’s premises, after a small incendiary device and two petanque balls were thrown by suspects at a guard box on one of the paper’s main gates, said superintendent Pol Colonel Sunthorn Kongklam.

Thai Rath’s own security cameras were not functioning at the time of the attack, which took place early Saturday morning. Two petanque balls have been sent for testing at the Scientific Crime Detection Division. Fingerprints had already been discovered and DNA tests would be carried out to secure further evidence.

Metropolitan Police Bureau 2 deputy commander Pol Colonel Charoen Srisulak said Pol Maj-General Parinya Chansuriya, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Commission, had appointed a team to find additional evidence at the scene, and would call a meeting

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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