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Educating Songwut

“The change in the children is heartening. We have some geniuses here!”

Boys at school in Thailand

“My dream,” Songwut’s father says, pouring hot coffee from an old thermos, “is for my son to go to school and learn to be a mechanic. Of course, if he doesn’t want to do that, I understand,” he adds with a smile, “but a father can have dreams for his son, right?”


Songwut and his father in Thailand


In the remote northern part of Thailand lies Kotah, a small tribal village located in the midst of dense jungle. There is no electricity, no phones and during the rainy season, transport by elephant is the norm. Access to schooling is extremely difficult and Songwut was just one child fighting hard to get an education.


Elephant in Thailand


But thanks to Compassion and the local church, the dreams of going to school are becoming a reality.

Sayan, a Compassion project staff member, says “Education is a big problem in Kotah. Teachers are supposed to teach twenty days out of the month. At the time we started working with the church in Kotah three years ago, teachers weren’t even staying for ten days!” As a result, local children would work in the surrounding rice fields while the wooden schoolhouse sat empty. The impact of this was not lost on their parents. Songwut’s father is a rice farmer and comes from a long line of rice farmers. “I want my son to have a different life,” he says. “When my neighbour went into the big city, he took his shoes off before entering a store. Everyone there laughed at him. If my son can read, he can go into the big city and read signs. He won’t be made fun of for not being able to read.” 

This is where Compassion came in. The local staff contacted the education authorities to hold teachers accountable to their contracts and teachers started staying for longer periods. Compassion also worked with the local church to find supplementary teachers to help ease the burden and provide better schooling for the children. At the Compassion project, Songwut and other children now meet every weekend to get help with their homework and receive tutoring.


Studying in Thailand


“The change in the children is heartening,” Sayan says. “We have some geniuses here! Songwut has really learnt to love maths. He is so fast, now he can do it faster than me.”

Thanks to sponsorship and the local church, the dreams of Songwut and his father are now within reach and Songwut is well on his way to receiving an education.


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WORDS : Roz Walsh

PHOTOS : Jonathan Suwaratana

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