6 June 2024

A school in Thailand’s western province of Kanchanaburi has backed off its plan for kindergarten students to wear military style fatigues once a week, after it came under heavy criticism for unnecessarily increasing the financial burden on parents and for its supposed military indoctrination.

The school will, however, still require Grade 3 kindergarteners to undergo territorial defence training, albeit without the uniform.

The students will also be required to wear a vest featuring flags of ASEAN member countries on top of their student uniforms every Friday and a track suit every Wednesday.

Director of Anuban Kanchanaburi School, in Muang district, Narong Mukdasaengsawang, explained that the territorial defence program was initiated since 2016 to instill a sense of patriotism and discipline in the children and loyalty towards the monarchy and there had been no problem about the uniforms until now.

The school issued a statement on Tuesday, saying it will subsidise some of the non-traditional uniforms, including the camouflage fatigues, before deciding to drop the military uniforms altogether following an executive meeting on Wednesday.

The military fatigue style uniform became controversial and drew widespread criticism after a picture of children in the uniform was posted on a very popular Facebook page, which is run by a medical technician and followed by 3.4 million accounts, with a comment saying “too many uniforms, can the parents bear (the financial burden).

Many of the comments said that some of the uniforms are unnecessary and just increase the financial burden on parents.

Military indoctrination of children has at times been criticised, especially on the Children’s Day, in which they are wowed by military weaponry and air shows. Thailand has had 13 successful coups since it became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.