Steve and Jemjahn go to Thailand, 2003
14. Village Elementary School
Outside the village, just a 5-minute walk from the house, was its
elementary school. One morning Jem and I went there to see the children
form up for class.
After giggling and running around in the large field in front of the school, the children gathered into a large formation, prompted by a whistle from a teacher, and organized by grades.
Jem stood behind the children talking with a group of teachers, an older
male teacher walked down the line of children, inspecting their
fingernails. Some children got a crack on their hands with a ruler.
They’d wince, and I felt like tackling the teacher.
Many of the children wore flip-flops. Some had no shoes at all. I didn’t see a single overweight child, nor an emaciated child, just slender active children. (The only overweight child I saw in the village was a teenage girl who worked in her parents' noodle shop.)
the Thai flag was raised, the students sang and prayed, and one older
boy at the head of the formation orated something, probably patriotic,
from memory. Then the children filed into the building.
Jem and I were invited by the principal to go into the classrooms. We found the two we entered to be almost empty of supplies. I doubt there’s a single school in America as poorly provisioned as this one.
brought to a classroom with five computers, the only ones in the school,
and of which the teacher was very proud. But the machines, donated by a
business years ago, were old 486s capable of running only DOS, and only
three even turned on. Back home I’ve got plenty of spare parts and
diagnostic programs. If only I’d known to bring them.
Thai children, at least rural Thai children, start life with a big educational strike against them.
next: Two Temples