11 July 2024

Primary schools in Thailand’s more remote areas having only one teacher responsible for the teaching of all subjects is not uncommon, but such a school only seven kilometres from the north-eastern provincial capital of Nakhon Phanom is not a good sign. It is stark evidence of the educational inequality in Thailand.

Section 49 of the Constitution specifies that every Thai is entitled to a free and quality education for at least 12 years.

The Dong Choke Ratsadon-uthit school, in Nong Yat sub-district, is supervised by the Primary Education Office of Nakhon Phanom and is under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Basic Education Commission.

The school’s one and only teacher is Thanyalak Deechan and she told a Thai PBS reporter that there are 19 students at the school, from kindergarten up to fifth grade (Pathom 6). The school also has two general affairs officials, who occasionally help her to teach the students.

She admitted that she was surprised when she first arrived at the school to discover that she is the only teacher.

The school’s director, Suphamat Kultangwattana, said they are given an annual budget of only 30,000, so the school has to raise donations from people in the community, by organising the “Pha Pa” religious ritual each year, which usually raises an additional 100,000.

The school cannot afford to hire a janitor and parents help out by cleaning toilets and sweeping the compound, claimed Suphamat, adding that parents also provide food for the students when the school runs short of funds.

The village headman of Ban Dong Choke said that, since the school opened in 1941, people in the community have been helping out as best they can, to prevent its closure, so their children can receive an education there.

Another school in Ban Phaeng district is in a similar situation.