A survey will be conducted soon to determine the nationalities of students in all 95 local schools in the province, Phayab Osotjaroen, chief of the provincial educational office, said yesterday.
Phayab said Thai authorities were not discriminating against non-Thai children. He said however it would need to be determined whether it was appropriate, or financially worthwhile, for education funding to be spent without benefit to Thai students.
He said evaluation and overall performance of Ranong-based students would be hampered by the lower competencies of non-Thai students and their lack of Thai language skills. A study is underway to determine whether a competency index and evaluation of Thai and non-Thai students should be separate.
Under an Education Ministry directive, schools in areas where the numbers of Thai students are too few can be closed, and non-Thai students reassigned to new classes to study together.
There are now 700 non-Thai students in all 95 local schools. Four schools with no Thai students attending have been closed.
A school in Kra Buri district has only 22 students, 18 of whom are non-Thai. Another school on Koh Lao has 80 students, 97 per cent of whom are non-Thai.
All amounts are stated in Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted.
“The second quarter was a strong period for the company, driven by new orders for our WideSpan system, momentum in the WiMAX market and continued strength in our core markets,” said Ed Ogonek, CEO of Bridgewater Systems. “As a result of our performance in the first half of the year, we have increased our full-year forecasts and now expect revenue of $58.0 to $62.0 million and earnings of $8.0 to $10.0 million.”
“The global growth in mobile data services is driving demand for our technology, and we are seeing this reflected in a high level of new business activity,” added Mr. Ogonek. “Our solid financial position and revenue visibility give us the confidence to increase investments in new growth initiatives. In the coming quarters, we plan to increase investments in global sales development, continued product innovation and operations. These investments are expected to position us to capitalize on the growth opportunities in our markets in 2010 and beyond.”
Firstly, technology enables game creators to develop the better games that give new experiences to players. Games are more attractive as they are introduced in 3D, HD and touch screen versions. Secondly, there are the games that feature well-known characters from movies and cartoons and the games that were developed from popular console games. Thirdly, handsets with new functions and bigger displays better support game playing and effectively show output. The other reason is the lifestyles of mobile phone users. They use their devices increasingly for entertainment. Apart from playing games, they also use mobile phones for downloading music, playing video contents etc.
“At present, there are about 500,000 customers who play games and about 75% of them are Happy’s customers. So we join forces with partners to develop “Pick2Play” as alternative for mobile gamers. Customers are allowed to download games at worthwhile costs and play them during the determined periods. There are 2 options: 1-day play which charges 15 baht and 3-day play that charges 25 baht. The customers who like the games they have tried can then download the games anytime at will,” Pakorn says.
The customers of Happy and dtac and use the “Pick2Play” service by pressing *197*7# and the dial button or clicking the “Pick2Play” banner at the WAP page of Happy Game Room and downloading the games they want. After game installation, they can choose either 1-day or 3-day session and play the installed games right away. After exiting the games, customers will receive messages reporting the remaining play time when they restart the games.
When Zoya Phan was a small child, her older brother would wake her in the middle of the night and strap her to his back. Her brother – still a child himself – needed the extra weight to operate the wooden beam the family used to pound rice in a huge mortar to remove the husks. He would sing to her as he pounded, until she fell back asleep.
It’s the inclusion of memories like that one that make Phan’s memoir, Little Daughter, more than a consciousness-raising exercise about the political situation in her native Burma. The depictions of starvation and violence, as horrible as they are, aren’t the most powerful parts of the book.
It’s the portrayal of her family’s life in the jungle that grabs the reader’s heart.
These aren’t victims. They’re people.
Phan is a member of the Karen ethnic minority, which has been oppressed by the Burmese military regime for decades. She grew up in villages in the jungle near the Thai border.
At 14, she fled the approaching army and spent much of her adolescence in the massive Karen refugee camps in Thailand.
Over the last few years, Canada has been actively resettling hundreds of Karen refugees from those camps. Zoya Phan’s younger brother, Slone Phan, is now living in Winnipeg.
Ottawa, too, has suddenly found itself with a Karen community made up of families who have been resettled from the camps.
But, like many refugees who’ve lived in fear their whole lives, the Karen can be reluctant to talk much about the horrors they left behind. Many are still learning English. So it’s possible for Canadians to live next door to Karen refugees without knowing much about where they come from.
Little Daughter speaks for the Karen refugees who are unable or unwilling to tell their stories.
“The Karen are now spread all over the world, even in Finland, Norway – the very north of the world – down to New Zealand,” says Zoya Phan on the phone from England, where she has lived for four years. Her sister is there with her.
Only one of the siblings – her older brother, Say Say, who used to put her on his back to pound rice – is still in the Thai/Burmese border zone, helping the refugees in the camps.
Like other Karen refugees, Phan has mixed feelings about her decision to leave the camps. The global resettlement program has been a near-miracle for thousands of Karen. And, as Phan acknowledges, it gives them freedom to speak openly to the world about the crisis in Burma.
But it has also drained the camps of many of their most skilled and educated refugees.
The camps are like prisons, Phan says. The Karen are not allowed to leave, to work or to farm. There is very little education. Food is rationed and only goes to the “official” refugees, who share it around.
Besides, the new Karen diaspora is, in some ways, an admission of defeat. The Karen’s fight for freedom is one of the world’s longest civil wars.
“The regime in Burma has a policy of ethnic cleansing,” says Phan. “To see the Karen spread all over the world would be a happy thing for the regime.”
What she wants, more than anything, she says, is to go home.
That might seem odd to a reader in the wealthy world. Phan grew up without any of the comforts of the 20th century. When she was two years old and close to death with a fever, her mother had to carry her through the jungle to find a nurse who could help.
Yet Little Daughter doesn’t make us pity these people. It helps us get to know them, so that when the violence and privation do come, we feel as if it is happening to friends.
We come quickly to admire Phan’s mother, a former resistance soldier who once led a troop of female fighters through the jungle; who once leapt on to a python’s back while her soldiers beat it to death; who kept adopting children of even poorer parents, even when she was gravely ill in the camps.
And we feel affection for her father, a writer, activist and high-ranking official in the Karen resistance movement who, every time they fled to a new place and had to build a new home in the jungle, would manage to create a little flower garden and decorative fish pond.
He was assassinated in Thailand last year by agents of the Burmese regime.
Phan and her British co-author, Damien Lewis (his name appeared on last year’s Tears of the Desert, with that of Halima Bashir, of Sudan) take pains to translate every Karen name. Thus, we learn that Tee Se Paw means Sweet Water Flower and Mu Yu Htoo means River of Gold.
There’s even poetry in the English names some Karen give their children: Nightingale and Winston Churchill were among Phan’s schoolmates.
She describes their childhood games. The children made marbles out of clay and swung on vines over the river.
Phan is only 28 years old. Her childhood lasts for most of the book, as the threat of war gets ever closer.
The Burmese regime instituted a policy called Four Cuts, cutting off supplies, recruits, food and information from the regions controlled by the Karen resistance.
After the democratic uprising and subsequent crackdown in Rangoon in 1988, many non-Karen Burmese freedom fighters fled to the border region and joined forces with the Karen.
That only attracted more violence from the regime.
Awakened to activism
So it was that in 1995, Phan and her mother and siblings piled into a boat with their neighbours, while their father urged them on from shore and the explosions came nearer. That was the beginning of a long trek back and forth across the Thai border.
The family would be reunited at times and then scatter again.
Phan, always a good student, eventually won a scholarship from an international organization and went to Bangkok to do her bachelor’s degree – in business, which was the only choice she was given.
She had to pretend to be Thai so the authorities wouldn’t deport her – not an easy task, when she barely spoke a word of Thai. And she had to learn to write her essays on a computer and e-mail them to her professors – this at a time when the self-described “girl from the jungle” was still getting used to the sight of window glass.
But she did well, and was eventually offered a job at a Thai telecommunications firm. Instead, she went back to the border area to help her family, and even back into Burma on a fact-finding mission, which she says awakened her to her true calling as an activist.
After her mother died, Phan took another scholarship at a university in England. At a free- Burma rally in 2005, she was invited to speak about her story.
Since then, she’s been a fixture at political conventions and on current-affairs shows. She now works for Burma Campaign UK.
Phan says she’d like Little Daughter to be “a window” to help people see what’s going on in Burma.
It is that, but it’s also a page-turner and a beautiful coming-of-age story.
Thirteen students walk single file, their heads bent down, staring at their bare feet as they move silently around a bright red carpet.
Leading them is a monk, a spare man dressed in an orange robe, his head shaved, his voice quietly chanting.
This is an example of a walking meditation that occurs every morning at a youth summer camp run by the Wat Buddharangsi.
The Wat is South Miami-Dade’s sole Buddhist temple, nestled among Redland mango and lychee groves.
From June to August, children — many from neighboring homes and farms — come to learn about Thai language and culture and Theravada Buddhism. It is the oldest, most traditional form of the worldwide faith, whose main tenets focus on people living a series of lives, each influenced by their previous incarnations.
The temple’s free summer camp has flown under the radar for a decade, but has been a boon to Thais and non-Thais alike. Children learn the ways of another land. And they learn from teachers who have first-hand knowledge of Thailand — and the ancient Theravada faith.
Phramaha Surachett Boonnom, the abbot of Wat Buddharangsi, came from Thailand in the 1980s to minister to the Thai community, which bought a five-acre property at 15200 SW 240th St. in 1986.
A decade later, members broke ground on a beautiful temple after they won support from county commissioners.
Inside the temple is the Phra Buddha Thammachinnaraj, a 23-foot, five-ton gold-leafed image of Buddha, which came from Thailand. It’s a godly image, which the children have come to respect.
“My father said this was the place with the largest Buddha. He wanted to take us here,” said Xiao Parks, of Redland. The 9-year-old waited for her turn to jump between two bamboo poles during a rhythmic Thai dance called rumlaokratobmai.
“It’s a lot of fun and not a lot of work,” she said.
The abbot said it was his idea to start the summer camp a decade ago as a way of instilling Buddhist principles, Thai culture and language to Thai children.
Even though there are no Thai youth participating this year, Phramaha Surachett Boonnom said he is proud of those who have joined the camp this summer. The students range in age from 8 to 15 years old.
“The children are our future,” the abbot said. “We need children to be around here, to learn about Buddhism and life.”
He invited Thanyarad Chanplang and Jintana Suksumran, two women professors who came from Bangkok, Thailand, to instruct the children.
“Our aim is to share, to invite everyone to the temple and let them know about Thai culture,” said Chanplang.
An assistant professor at Chandrakasem Rajabhat University, she is teaching at the Wat for the first time thanks to a partnership between the temple and the university.
A typical day at summer camp lasts from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Blocks of time are set aside for prayer, chanting, exercise, lunch, classroom instruction and games.
The teachers are gentle but strict. They tap students on the shoulder to sit up properly or to bow during chanting and prayers. And they remind students to pay attention to the monks when they are teaching.
The discipline is something that the children become accustomed to over time, said Khanya Moolsiri, secretary of the temple. The students have become quieter and better mannered, she noted.
“One of the reasons parents like the camp is because it teaches Thai manners, how to show respect to adults, parents and teachers,” Moolsiri said.
But the instructors balance the rituals that demand proper form and deference with games and dance that provide an outlet for free expression.
During a recent visit to the classroom, Suksumran led the students in a game akin to ”Simon Says.” She pointed to her nose and eyes and fingers to teach the students Thai words for the different parts of the body.
Chanplang led the children in another game, similar to “Duck Duck Goose,” where the children sat in a circle as one of their peers walked around a circle and dropped a rag behind one of the kids, which led to a short chase.
The summer camp class will graduate next Sunday9, a day that coincides with Queen Sirikit’s birthday and Thai Mother’s Day. The temple will host a celebration and a meditation that day starting at 9 a.m. The public is invited to attend.
The children will offer white jasmine flowers to their own mothers as a sign of respect and gratitude, said Chanplang.