In the fabric workshop of Ban Noen Thammang School in Chian Yai district, Nakhon Si Thammarat province, two handlooms were making constant clacking sounds in a perfect rhythm due to the coordinated hand and foot movements of Phleng and View, the 6th grade girls. Meanwhile, at another corner of the room, the sewing machines were humming softly as the needles were stitching across fabrics in sync with the pressure which the girls’ classmates put on the foot pedals.
“The fabric weaving is an activity under the School Sericulture Successors Building Project. After we’ve seen that the children are able to weave fabrics, we’d like them to also learn how to sew clothes as the two skills are interrelated. The school has asked World Vision Foundation of Thailand to support some sewing machines. Two of them have been provided to us,” Ms Kularp Phakdeemai explained about the activities going on in the fabric workshop.
The two interwoven activities have enhanced students’ occupational skills. The school started from being one of the 64 schools nationwide that have been selected to carry out the School Sericulture Successors Project, thanks to its location in the area in which a Royal Folk Arts and Craft Centre is situated. The centre is one of the royal initiatives of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, wife of the late King Rama IX.
Students have been trained, from yarn spinning on a wheel to fabric weaving, at the Royal Folk Arts and Craft Centre. After that, they have practiced fabric weaving at school by using the handlooms supported by the School Sericulture Successors Building Project. Due to this opportunity, Phleng’s skills have been so advanced that she has won a gold medal from the Regional-Level Sericulture Successors Contest and been recognised as the school’s best fabric weaver.
“Phleng is very good at fabric weaving. She can even weave fabrics in decorative patterns,” Ms Kularp commended the fabric weaving skills of Phleng, her little student, who can make “Pha Yok Dok,” another signature, meticulous fabric weaving pattern of Nakhon Si Thammarat, which requires advanced skills and expertise to weave.
Fabric weaving has become the school’s pride which it wishes to share with all teachers, parents and students. Through Chian Yai Area Development Programme, World Vision Foundation of Thailand has provided quality, colorful hand-woven cotton fabrics to support the school to make school uniform shirts for students to wear 2 days a week. They have become the school’s shirts which the students wear on every special occasion.
In addition, the school has also developed other fabric products for sales, such as different styles of shirts and a variety of bags, as well as woven fabrics. Once in a while, special orders of woven fabrics may be placed by those who are fascinated in the students’ weaving skills.
“Phleng has just finished weaving a couple of made-to-order fabrics,” Ms Kularp went on to admire her student.
The income from the school’s fabric weaving and sewing has been proportionally allocated to the students and parents according to the responsibilities they’ve taken. The surplus has been spent on buying cotton thread, silk yarn and other supplies to keep the activities running continuously.
“When asked how they’ve planned on spending the money, most of the students told me they’d save it to pay for their secondary education. The children would put all income earned through this project in their savings,” said Ms Kularp with a big smile.