HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Lanna Grade 3 Students visit Chiang Mai Ram Hospital

THAI packages Panda tours including entry ticket to the zoo

More radio and TV programs for children

Boy Scout Troop No. 731 holds a two day Merit Badge Meet

Studying education in Chiang Mai

66 children rejoice from the Rejoice Urban Development Project

Lanna Grade 3 Students visit Chiang Mai Ram Hospital

Studying the human body at close quarters

Roy Lewis

Grade 3 students of Lanna International School, dressed in their shirts displaying the main organs of the body, visited the Chiang Mai Ram hospital as part of their curriculum on the ‘human body’.

Perhaps one of them will be a future scientist after experiencing the miracle of the microscope

They were welcomed by the Medical Director, Dr Thawatchai Tansathit, and then visited many of the departments of the hospital, including the dentistry and X-ray departments and the laboratories, and wherever possible, they were given the opportunity to experience using the equipment.

An opportunity to try out the specialized equipment.

The students learned how the heart rate and blood pressure are checked and saw how ultrasound was performed. In the maternity unit they were also lucky enough to see a two day old baby.

The students learned a great deal during their visit and were most appreciative of all the hospital staff for the attention and instruction they were given during the visit.

And as an added bonus, they were able to take all of their own bodies home. No organs were left behind!

THAI packages Panda tours including entry ticket to the zoo

Will there be double pricing for this too?

By Chin Ratitamkul

Thai Airways International (THAI), one of the sponsors of Chiang Mai’s Giant Pandas, has organized a “Love Chiang Mai, Love Panda” promotion, running from December 1, 2003-February 29, 2004.

THAI’s regional Office Upper North welcomed 114 students of Buranit School from Chonburi province, the first group of students enjoying the special Panda promotion Package.

Tanawat Hiranyalekha, Direct Sales Manager THAI, said the company is presenting the panda tour packages to Thai youths around the country, to allow them to visit the goodwill ambassadors currently living at Chiang Mai Zoo.

The initial one day tour package includes a round trip air ticket, transportation, lunch, and an entrance ticket to the Zoo, aimed at children under the age of twelve.

The package costs 1,500 baht for the under twelve students, but students aged 12-18 will have to pay 2,500 baht. Accompanying parents pay 3,500 baht per person. The special rate also only applies to groups with more than 10 people, and groups over 15 people will receive one free package air ticket for a teacher. THAI will provide 840 seats per day for this program, from Mondays to Thursdays.

The first group in this panda package came from Buranit School, Chonburi, and 114 young students flew up to Chiang Mai. Ajarn Arunee Ocharoen, a teacher from Buranit School, said that when the school learned about this project, many students and their parents showed immediate interest.

Danaipat Puangkanok, a Mathayom 6 student from Buranit School, said he joined the excursion because he wanted to see the Giant Pandas. However, Danaipat said the trip was too short and he wanted more time to travel around Chiang Mai.

More radio and TV programs for children

‘Soaps’ to be banned? Not likely!

Angsana Tippaya PRD, Chiang Mai

Wichien Noonrod, chief of Chiang Mai Provincial Public Relations Office, said that the Cabinet had agreed at their meeting on December 4, 2003, to provide more air time for national radio and television broadcasters to add more educational programs for children and families, which will be supervised by the Public Relations Department (PRD).

He added that the PRD, being the license issuing authority, is looking for more cooperation from the national radio and television broadcasters to designate 10-15 percent of broadcasting time to feature children, youth, and family-related programs. The PRD will begin to broadcast these specific programs from January 1, 2004, onwards, most probably from 4-6.30 p.m. daily, the prime time for family viewing, other than the nightly soaps.

Boy Scout Troop No. 731 holds a two day Merit Badge Meet

Dean Overholt

About 15 boys (aged 12-16), from CMIS and GIS participated at the two day merit badge meeting. The scouts learned how to prevent fires and have a safe and secure home. They learned various cooking techniques, courtesy of Barb Sandell, especially trail mixes and power bars to have energy while on the trail.

The scouts listen attentively during the dentistry class

The badges which were covered for troop 731, were: Fire Fighting, Fire, Communications, Dentistry and Cooking. But the highlight seemed to be the Dentistry merit badge. To give the boys first hand experience, volunteer Doug Tell allowed his already painful wisdom tooth to be extracted. The boys were privileged to observe this procedure first hand. Doug is also much happier now!

Troop 731 has officially existed for 37 years and meets every Monday at CMIS at 6:30 p.m. It is chartered under the Far East Council (Japan), of the Boy Scouts of America. There are monthly camp outs, fishing trips and other fun activities. Call Dean Overholt at 053-282-620 for more information.

Studying education in Chiang Mai: Social Equality and the Needs of Students

by Alexei Andre Waters

Social equality is a curious intellectual invention. Like peace, almost everyone claims to be committed to it, yet few are willing to sacrifice their own interests for the welfare and security of abstract ideas or faceless others.

The paradox has always been this: the promotion of social equality requires treating people unequally at times. That is because in pluralistic democratic societies, sharp divergences exist between people and groups with different capabilities.

In A Theory of Justice (1971), the late Harvard philosopher John Rawls demonstrated that a just liberal democratic society could permit social inequalities under two conditions. His liberty principle required that citizens of a given polity be provided with a fully adequate scheme of basic liberties; and his difference principle required that inequalities in wealth and social position be arranged in such a manner as to benefit the worst off groups in society.

Yet, in education, the idea that institutions have a moral obligation to treat students with differences in abilities and needs differently, incites passions, creates animosity and challenges long-held assumptions about the best interests of students. That explains the dearth - indeed absence - of programs for gifted students and those in need of intensive academic remedial education in Chiang Mai. There are complex cultural and political reasons for this situation, all of which make sense, but none of which stand up to scrutiny if the interests of students are taken seriously.

Consider some real cases (names have been changed). Yeon-Jung is an 8th grade student at an international school, and is Korean. She was placed in the English as Second Language (ESL) program and has been making enough progress that she will probably be able to leave the ESL program at the end of the current academic year. In contrast, her cousin Hyung-Jung, is struggling. Despite the small class size, enthusiastic and qualified teachers, Hyung-Jung is gradually losing all of her confidence since her abilities are much lower than Yeon-Jung and her peers.

Hiroaki is a 7th grade Japanese boy at another international school. He studied English in Japan for six years prior to his father’s relocation to Thailand. He reads at least two years above his grade level but his math skills are below grade level. He is among the best students in his class. He finds the homework uninspiring (it is too easy) and he is never permitted to read more challenging works that would be more appropriate for a student of his abilities. His teachers simply encourage him to write more ambitious essays on the assigned topics, something he finds increasingly monotonous.

Jinny is a 6th grade Thai national attending one of the best Thai schools in Chiang Mai. Her parents are displeased with the slow pace of her English language courses and believe an international school would be more suitable for her. Yet her scores on the English proficiency exam demonstrated that she is well below grade level and her parents are afraid that the time spent in ESL classes will hinder her progress in other courses. Despite the superior counseling they have received from the prospective school, they remain adamant in their position.

These are representative examples of students with larger implications. Many parents - even teachers, believe that remedial programs stigmatize students. Gifted programs, say critics, lead students to become arrogant and gives them a false sense of superiority. Students in the regular classes, by virtue of comparisons with gifted students, represent the dreaded statistical average.

So why do school administrators refrain from articulating an alternative to this conundrum? To broach the subject with parents might lead to misunderstandings, invite unwelcome criticism and promote cross-cultural conflict - something definitely unpleasant for the principals and emotionally harmful to the students.

It is time to rethink what happens to students and why. That makes it necessary for adults - parents, educators and policy experts - to dampen their pride to reasonable proportions. Then they can begin to critically assess how best to meet the specific aspirations and distinct needs of students. Our educational impasse might then be overcome.

But for this to occur, we must never cower before the hard-won majesty of our most cherished convictions: a commitment to a reasonable model of education means we should embrace the paradoxes of liberal democracy. The alternative is the beginning of a life-long journey down to the precious middle, where mediocrity dwells.

66 children rejoice from the Rejoice Urban Development Project

Xmas - a time to forget one’s troubles

Marion Vogt
Photos by Michael Vogt

The annual children’s Christmas party proved again what three people with their hearts in the right place can do, if they set a goal. Dot Delaney, Poolsuk Mansfield and Kobkaew Tucker made it possible that 66 children from the Rejoice Urban Development Project (RUDP) could be invited to the Christmas party at ‘The Pub’.

The most important man was of course ‘Santa’

The RUDP visits 200 people every week who carry the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). 70 are children, but four could not be present as they were too weak to leave their village.

Steve Hallem, the director and project founder was overjoyed for ‘his kids’. He told Chiangmai Mail that children with HIV and AIDS can suffer from many health problems related to their illness. Twenty percent of children diagnosed with HIV develop AIDS and die within four years. The other eighty percent have a slower progression, not developing the symptoms of AIDS until they are of school age or older.

The children waiting for the ‘Magic Man’ while Steve Hallam (back row with glasses), next to Dot Delaney and Poolsuk Mansfield, looks relaxed.

But infirmity was not apparent that afternoon. The mood was carefree and joyful. The shyness which was felt one year ago was gone, Steve saying that the children who were here last year were talking about nothing else for the last couple of weeks. Those children who were well enough to come were sponsored, and all the RUDP had to provide were the names and gender of the children. Everything else was taken care of by the three big-hearted ladies and volunteers who selected presents and toys, with the remainder of the money donated going on medicines for the children.

I am just peeping ‘a little bit’...

During the afternoon, a magician with a green parrot on his shoulder showed his tricks and a clown blew up funny balloons and taught little dancing games to the children, while people walked in with envelopes whose contents would buy more medicine, while others were seen carrying in trays of food or soft drinks.

The highlight was Santa’s visit, and of course the receiving of something which otherwise would only exist in the fantasy of their minds.

The organizers thanked all supporters who donated food, space, helping hands or money. Every little drop fills the ocean and sometimes a little something for an individual means the world for someone else. Merry Christmas everybody!


Did you bring me something as well? Just for me?

The Magic Man with his parrot had everyone joining in.

Num from Hair Pro Saloon was one of the donors who came during the afternoon and made a donation to help purchase medicine for the children.