Education Minister visits small schools in Chiang Mai

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CHIANG MAI, 3 June 2013 Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Pongthep Thepkanjana visited Baan Pangdang and Baan Pasak-ngam schools in Doi Saket District, Chiang Mai Province amidst public criticism on the Ministry’s policy of merging small schools with bigger ones. 

The Deputy Prime Minister said his visit was aimed at gathering residents’ suggestions and observing educational quality of small schools. He said he found out that the two schools could not be merged with other schools in the province as they both are located in the remote areas of Doi Saket. Students of Baan Pasak-ngam, in particular, have to travel by boat, and then by car, to get to the campus. The school only has 9 students, 3 teachers including a head master.

The Education Minister said that in cases where merging is impossible, the only solution is to lift the quality of the target schools by gathering opinions from local administrations and related agencies.

During the visit, the minister also attended a public hearing in which locals voiced their opinions that small schools serve the community’s lifestyle and cultural contexts which, they claimed, should be preserved. Another important fact about small schools is that their locations are close to locals while sending offspring to study elsewhere would raise the issues of financial burden and student’s safety.

The villagers also suggested construction of a bridge to a major school in the district where over 400 pupils are attending. They said the bridge would not only facilitate their children’s journey to the school, but also tourists coming to their villages.