From a school alumna and years of school engagement, Sergeant Major Third Class Supphakan Jantahwong WRTA, is now serving her country as a state teacher at Ban Mae Klong Khi Border Patrol Police School. She has an insight into what hinders children in minority ethnic groups who live in poor, remote areas from achieving ability to read and write. As a teacher who teaches Thai language to Karen children living in the border area of Umphang district, Tak province, Ms Supphakan reveals that last year, Songkiat “Kafae”, a sponsored child of World Vision Foundation of Thailand -- as well as other slow learners in the school-- took an extra class to strengthen their learning foundation and end children’s illiteracy problem.
Aside from crossing mountains, going to Ban Mae Klong Khi Border Patrol Police School also takes fording some streams, making a normal road trip to school impossible during the rainy season. The route turns rough and muddy; therefore, the school can only be reached by farm truck or on foot. The Karen boy is one year behind at school, but not the only weak learner in his class. “I was really concerned about his schooling. He did poorly in every class, especially Thai language. His parents are not fluent in Thai reading and writing. He had nobody to help doing homework,” said Teacher Supphakan. However, after having attended the after-school tutorial class every day and joined the Thai language skill development camp, Kafae’s and his friends’ grades have significantly improved.
Umphang Area Development Programme of World Vision Foundation of Thailand aims to help vulnerable children, children from ethnic groups and children with disabilities to receive educational opportunities for self-development and to fulfill their potentials. As such, it has supported many educational promotion projects, including provision of extra tutorial class, support of teaching and learning materials to build readers (to become fluent in reading) and groom writers (to be able to write correctly) at school, and boosting child literacy development since early years. The school’s extra tutorial class has been carried out over one academic year so far. Students who don’t do well in class attend the one-hour Thai language tutorial every day after school for 1 year. The instructional materials supported by the project have also been applied in this tutorial class. The project has also carried out Student Peer Teaching Camp (Thai language teaching), in which the older students teach the younger ones to read and write. Both games and songs have also been incorporated into the contents of the Thai language teaching to create fun learning experience for the kids. As a result, they have achieved more fluent reading and writing and got better grades in Thai language class to keep up with the standard.
“When he was in grade 1 and grade 2, he was always whining about not being able to catch up with his classmates and the learning was not dull. But after he has joined the Thai language tutorial class after school and attended Peer Teaching Camp every year, he really enjoys it. He always comes home to tell me what he’s learned each day. He loves going to school and his grades have much improved,” Mrs Mue Hay Por, Kafae’s mother, said with a big smile.
“I’m so glad to see his much-improved development. On behalf of Ban Mae Klong Khi Border Patrol Police School, I’d like to thank sponsors who have given all supports to implement good projects through WVFT’s work, including various activities to benefit the school and community,” ended SM3 Supphakan Jantahwong.