a new library
With the help of our partnering organization, the Samsara Foundation, Global Playground has funded the construction of a new library for Huay Puung Mai School in the Mae Hong Son province of Northern Thailand. Samsara, a local NGO based in Chiang Mai, has previously worked with the Thai Ministry of Education and local communities in Northern Thailand to install new water purification systems at schools in the region and to build canteens, dormitories, and libraries.
The cost of the library was $13,385, which included the following: a new building, 10 tables with accompanying benches, 4 large bookshelves, and educational books.
The Huay Puung Mai School is located about two and half hours outside of the provincial capital of Mae Sariang and offers primary, middle, and secondary education. Under the auspices of the Thai Ministry of Education, the school currently serves a population of 350 students which is expected to grow to 400 students by next year. Since many students come from remote villages, the library will function mainly as a study area for students who must reside at the school throughout the week due to the great distances they must travel. During the rainy season, the library will serve as an alternative space for group learning. Additionally, the library will be a platform from which Global Playground will further promote cross-cultural dialogue with existing Global Playground schools.
the state of education
Under the new Constitution of 1997, Thai law guarantees a free, basic education to all Thai citizens. According to this law, a basic education consists of 6 years of primary schooling and 6 additional years of secondary education. In May 2004, in an effort to improve the country’s education system, the Thai Ministry of Education increased the total number of basic schooling years from 12 to 14 years. Yet, according to UNICEF, nearly 1 million school-age children in Thailand are still not in school. Even more alarming, about 1 million children are classified as “at-risk” children who face a high likelihood of being exploited by child traffickers, spreading HIV/AIDS, or engaging in street crime.
In contrast to neighboring countries such as Burma and Laos, Thailand has enjoyed a high degree of stability and economic prosperity despite recent natural disasters, financial setbacks, and political upheaval. Yet, while the more prosperous central and southern parts of Thailand developed substantially, the northern and eastern parts of Thailand remain underdeveloped and continue to display the characteristics of a third world country. Ethnic minorities, rural subsistence farmers, and refugees populate these regions and remain among its most marginalized groups. In addition, geographic isolation and economic inequalities further alienate these impoverished groups and inhibit access to basic education. These remote areas will be better equipped to combat poverty, child trafficking, and spread of disease through improved access to education. Clean water, latrines/toilets, student dormitories, and study centers such as libraries will help bring basic education to children living in rural areas in Thailand.
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