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Teaching 9/11 in Phuket schools

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Teaching 9/11 in Phuket schools | The Thaiger

PHUKET: A decade on from that fateful day, what are Phuket schoolchildren learning about 9/11?

Teaching children too young to remember the events of 9/11 is difficult to imagine for adults who can recall the carnage of that day as if it were yesterday.

For us adults, 9/11 will be an event that defines our time, but for children it is just another subject to learn about in school, another book to read, and another lesson about an event they were not a part of.

From the United States to Phuket, school teachers are divided over the best ways to educate the young about 9/11.

One reason is the complexity of the answer to the first question children ask: “Why did it happen?”

Religious fundamentalism, hate, response to US foreign policy, conspiracy theories – ask 10 people; get 10 different reasons. All adults have an opinion. We all watched the towers fall, we recall the events unfolding live on TV and we know about the wars that followed.

But how do you teach children of all ethnic and religious backgrounds about 9/11 at an international school in Phuket? No easy task.

“9/11 is one of the most difficult subjects I can think of for children to comprehend,” said Doug Haberman, 52, journalism and world history teacher at Quality School International Phuket.

His students are aged between 13 and 16 years old. They have no memory of 9/11.

It’s not a subject currently taught on the school’s curriculum, and Doug said he feels it is a subject more suited to college students.

“It is a subject fraught with peril, and teaching it in a meaningful way would require a sophisticated approach.

“Ideology, religious fundamentalism, ongoing conflicts as a result of 9/11 are all complex issues…. For young students to assimilate an understanding of the whole picture is very difficult,” he said.

In the US today there is a wide choice of educational materials and curricula centered around 9/11.

Some have been highly controversial. A newly released children’s coloring book, We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids’ Book of Freedom from publisher Really Big Coloring Books Inc, caused outrage among Muslims for its treatment of the Islamic faith. The book was aimed at 9 to 11 year olds.

Outrage and controversy are words never far from 9/11 education.

But a quick web search will produce more than 356,000 matches for the field of study. Many of them have been hugely successful.

The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, which has a range of educational materials on its website and offers seminars to teachers, has been well received.

Back in 2009, the first high school curriculum dedicated entirely to the 9/11 attacks was implemented in schools in New York, New Jersey, California, Alabama, Illinois, Indiana and Kansas.

Written by the September 11th Education Trust, the curriculum brought together the efforts of politicians and victims’ families, survivors, rescuers and educators from across the US.

American Patrick Buckley, 39, the director at QSI Phuket, said students’ parents should also play a role with regard to learning about 9/11.

“The events on 9/11 are something that a parent must choose regarding an appropriate age for their child to learn. Additionally, how in-depth the lesson should be would be dependent on the developmental maturity of each child,” he said.

And while he feels teaching 9/11 requires focus on respect, tolerance and peaceful resolutions to conflict, Patrick said it is not possible to teach without discussing the extremism behind the attacks.

At the British International School Phuket, humanities teacher David Gow said his students (age 11 to 17 years old) do learn about 9/11.

The 29-year-old Canadian teacher said his students don’t remember 9/11 – his oldest student was only seven at the time.

“To the majority of the students it’s an historical event, one that they have no memory of and no frame of reference for the gravity of what happened,” he said.

“We deal mostly with the events that transpired as a result of the attacks: the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Using news clips and discussion-based classes is the most productive method for teaching the subject.” he added.

In his class, the students are encouraged to study the impact of 9/11 on a world scale and comment on its causality.

“Religion has never been an issue. There’s no good, no bad in our discussion – that is not a subject we broach. We look to the context of these events in history and the effect they have on it.”

Over at Headstart International School Phuket, 9/11 is not currently taught on the curriculum.

But Briton Mark Goodman, 39, lead teacher for secondary, said his 12 to 18 year-old students learn about Hurricane Katrina, World War 2, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge and Apartheid, but not the 9/11 attacks.

He said if it were added to the curriculum, he would teach it as a “factual representation”.

“With this type of event, I feel as a teacher we should not be shying away from presenting our students with the reality of that day. I would let them see the towers collapsing and then hold a discussion-based class,” he said.

World Trade Center site today

On the website of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, it says the Memorial Plaza will open to the public on Sunday, on schedule.

– One World Trade Center, the name given to the tallest of seven new towers being built, has reached 80 floors, rising one floor per week. It is now the tallest building in Lower Manhattan, surpassing 40 Wall Street built in 1930. Upon completion it will be the tallest building in the US, and among the tallest in the world. The estimated cost is US$3 billion with a completion date of 2013. Other construction additions to the site include the two mammoth Reflecting Pools where the twin towers once stood, a visitor center, transportation hub and a memorial wall.

– Despite winds of more than 60mph during hurricane Irene last week, the World Trade Center site was unscathed, with not a single newly planted tree downed.

If you would like to learn more about progress at the World Trade Center site, then visit panynj.gov/wtcprogress. For teachers, see: The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial at pentagonmemorial.org/learn/education-materials, or Education Trust at sept11educationtrust.org, or for answering students questions about war: educationworld.com

— Fraser Morton

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Property

Guaranteed rental returns – Are they real?

The Thaiger

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Guaranteed rental returns – Are they real? | The Thaiger

If you’re looking to invest in overseas property, search the market and it’s not unusual to find condos for sale with guaranteed rental returns of 40%, and some even higher. Yes, it DOES seems too good to be true, but the offers are out there and the packages often come with free legal fees and other such benefits. Clearly, before diving in, you need to seek some expert and professional advice.

So, what is the debate about? And what questions should you ask prior to investing?

Guaranteed rental returns are obviously enticing for investors and purchasers alike, with standard net returns usually being advertised below the 10% mark.

In the opinion of many, this is not a cheap marketing trick. Yes, it does have ‘marketing power’ and it might just be the additional financial package that helps developers and agents clinch the deal. But for the investors, they genuinely are guaranteed a minimum return on their investment. Surely that’s positive. It eases the concerns of investors and keeps the market buoyant. And why wouldn’t buyers prefer to go with the property that guarantees this return, over the property that does not?

Other experts are not so sure. While acknowledging that a rental guarantee clearly offers agents and developers an advantage in marketing and selling, there are voices within the industry that urge caution. There’s a suspicion that developments that come with a guarantee may be overpriced and that the developers may have factored the cost of the guarantee into the actual price of the property that is being offered.

Those that hold this negative opinion about guarantees suggest that a better strategy for any investor might be to really understand the market in which the property is being offered, aim to get the lowest price possible, do the deal and then organise the letting independently.

Other cautious voices wonder if investors aren’t being tantalised with a vision of unrealistic long-term returns. The question that is asked is what happens when the guaranteed period ends? It’s not unknown for the guaranteed period to expire, and for the investor to suddenly realise that the true rental value of the property is much lower than they believed. Rental incomes suddenly drop, and they suddenly realise that they have overpaid into the wrong investment.

But still, many deny that developers overprice properties when offering guarantees. And no matter what, it’s clear that a rental guarantee is important for certain investors who need the security that it offers. And genuinely, it appears that there are some good guarantees out there on the market. So what to do?

The trick is to apply common sense and due diligence to the situation and examine the legal, commercial and financial strength of the guarantee and the market in which it is being offered. Here are some questions worth considering:

Legally, how is the guarantee structured?

Is it underwritten with a contract in which legal recourse is an option, should you not receive the income that is guaranteed? This is clearly important.

Commercially, is the guaranteed rental figure in-line with the rental market in which the property is situated? Basically, are the developers offering you more rental income than is actually achievable in the current market? If they are offering you more, then once the guaranteed period expires, you’ll probably see your returns on investment drop.

Financially, how does the guarantee work?

Is the guaranteed return dependent upon the commercial success of the project?

Some guarantees are based on projected annual revenues and are subject to these revenues being achieved. In other words, if the expected revenues aren’t achieved, the full guaranteed amounts might not be paid to the purchaser.

In addition to this, some guarantees may also come with the proviso that the amount being ‘guaranteed’ is ‘subject to the competency of’ the management of the complex. This may seem vague, but it’s possible that if the expected revenues aren’t achieved, then the blame for this failure is going to be put solely on the management company.

The vagueness of such a ‘competency’ proviso might also be used to cover all manner of issues. For example, is it possible that forecasted rental revenues might fail to materialise, not because of the bad management of a complex, but because the original forecasts were set too high? It might be easy to blame all manner of poor results on the incompetence of how an apartment complex is managed and to do this with no liability.

With this in mind, once again, it’s very important to look at the rental market in which the property is located, and then ask: are the projected annual revenues realistic in the current market? And of course, you will have to do some research on the developers.

Do the developers have a track record of successfully managing properties, renting them out and ensuring that incomes are generated?

If the answer to this is ‘no’, how then will they be able to generate the income that they are guaranteeing? This may be a sign that the property price has been ‘artificially’ increased to cover any foreseen shortfall in future income.

All-in-all, there’s a lot to consider. Guaranteed rental returns do offer investors a level of security, and it is natural for people to feel compelled to buy into them, and yes, there are some good offers on the market. But it’s worth remembering that in the right location, you’ll always be able to rent out a property.

As we always recommend at The Thaiger, do your homework!

To find thousands of available rental properties in Thailand, click HERE.

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Business

500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies

Greeley Pulitzer

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500 people own 36% of equity in Thai companies | The Thaiger

Roughly 36% of Thailand’s corporate equity is held by just 500 people, highlighting wealth inequality in the Kingdom, according to a study released by the Bank of Thailand’s research institute.

Each of these 500 amass some 3.1 billion baht (102 million USD) per year in company profits, according to the report from the Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research. In contrast, average yearly household income in Thailand is around 10,000 USD.

A report out this week from the Economic and Business Research Centre for Reform at Thailand’s Rangsit University also pointed to divisive and polarised politics being another root cause of the economic divide.

Thailand’s private sector is dominated by tycoons running sprawling conglomerates. According to the World Bank, the gap between the mega-wealthy and the rest of the Thai population of 69 million is among the many economic challenges for Thailand. According to Bloomberg, the perception of a divide, exacerbated by an economic slowdown, is a major political fault line.

“Magnates arise in Thailand from institutional factors that privilege certain businesses,” said the executive director of PIER, author of the study.

The institute said Thailand needs to promote competitiveness to reduce profits from monopoly power and bolster entrepreneurship to create a more equitable distribution of corporate wealth.

The research is based on analysis of 2017 Commerce Ministry data on the 2.1 million shareholders in Thai firms, and was funded by the University of California San Diego.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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