HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

CMU Uplands Program researchers aid farmers

Khon Kaen University President awarded Golden Garuda

Chiang Mai’s First Buddhist Bi-lingual School

School for the Blind receives 250,000 baht


CMU Uplands Program researchers aid farmers

By Shana Kongmun

Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Agriculture works in cooperation with Hohenheim University in Stuttgart, Germany to run a master’s and doctoral program for research into mountainous agricultural practices.

A researcher checks on lychee trees in the greenhouse. (Photo by Joachim E. Roettigers)

The Uplands Program was established in 2000 and operates in Vietnam and Thailand, with Chiang Mai University, Kasetsart, Silpakorn and Mae Jo Universities taking part, however, Chiang Mai is the main driver. The goal of the program is not development work but training students and generating knowledge that will promote sustainable agricultural practices in mountainous regions. Funded by the German Research Foundation and the National Research Council Thailand, the aim is to promote research in agriculture in the fragile highlands eco-system studying the variations in climate, soil and culture.

There are 14 different research projects in Germany and 10 in Thailand, ranging from soil erosion, pesticide use, sustainable agriculture and the potential of economic incentives to reduce use, to developing new partnerships for farmers.

There has been a focus on lychee and longan fruits in the North as farmers begin replacing them with vegetables on steep slopes whose propagation leads to more soil erosion. The annual glut of fruit results in very low prices creating a disincentive to farmers to continue to grow them. Researchers are working on attempts to spread lychee production over the year. Other efforts involve getting farmers to work directly with the big stores like Tesco Lotus and some have even started exporting overseas.

Another goal is to break the dependency on pesticide use and the concomitant health issues that follow, studies are currently underway to determine how much pesticide is used and how to encourage farmers to use substitutions. To that end they have developed information that is given to farmers to inform them of toxicity and substitutions. Pesticides are not taxed so prices are low and in times of serious outbreaks are distributed for free. Overuse of pesticides has also led to resistance in many pests and many farmers, it is noted, are moving to other areas as the insects become resistant and pesticide use no longer affects them.

The Uplands program provides the Saiwam Masters Program in English at CMU and it is currently attended by an international body of students. The program is encouraging more Thais however, so that foreign and Thai students can interact.

Pepijn Schreinemachers noted that it is quite a popular program for international students as it offers practical and hands on field work in a diverse climate for students working on their theses. He added that training students has been the most immediately satisfying aspect of the program, and that many Thai students have graduated and now work at CMU.

Khon Kaen University President awarded Golden Garuda

By Phitsanu Thepthong

Hon. Prof. Dr. Sumon Sakolchai, the President of Khon Kaen University (KKU) received the prestigious ‘Golden Garuda Award’ from Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on December 1, 2010. This Medal of Honor Award’ is awarded by the Civil Service Association of Thailand to outstanding university president in the country.

Hon. Prof. Dr. Sumon Sakolchai is here seen receiving his award for outstanding government official.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva presided over the presentation ceremony of the Awards of Honor to Hon. Prof. Dr. Sumon and 9 other most outstanding government officials for the year 2007-2008. KKU President Hon. Prof. Dr. Sumon received the award, as he was selected as one of the 10 best government officials in civil service for university president category. Hon. Prof. Dr. Sumon Sakolchai, President of Khon Kaen University. He was the only one awarded the Golden Garuda as outstanding university President.

Hon. Prof. Dr. Sumon Sakolchai, who has held the position of KKU President for two terms, marking 8 years in office, has devoted himself to helping develop the university into a world-class institute.

On December 3, 2010 the KKU personnel jointly held a congratulation party to honor Hon. Prof. Dr. Sumon for winning the award at Sirikunakorn Building, the Office of KKU President.

Chiang Mai’s First Buddhist Bi-lingual School

The newly built hall at Panyaden School, the first bi-lingual Buddhist school,
is a unique design in building.

By Li Li Tan

160 parents, children and other visitors gathered at Panyaden School in Hang Dong on a beautiful morning on 28 November to have a glimpse into what Chiang Mai’s first Buddhist bi-lingual school will offer its students when it opens in April 2011.

It was a day of fun and activities for the children who were treated to interactive music and dance performances, enacted stories about the dragon who refused to go to school; and other lively games like building the tallest Bamboo Tower and playing with musical instruments made out of bamboo and paper.

Their parents were also not left out. Besides participating in the activities, they listened to the founder, Yodphet Sudsawad and to Mr. Neil Amas (Co-Principal with Surangkana Tuatison) speak in English and Thai about Panyaden School’s vision and core principles based on Buddhist teachings.

The learning process at Panyaden School will include the “5Es” which are “Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate”. These will be taught in a peaceful and ecologically friendly environment built by local craftsmen and minorities from the Northern hill tribes.

Panyaden School believes strongly in investing in people. Its staff has been carefully selected for their skills, knowledge, mindset and ability to work well with children. Hiring and training of the teachers started in April 2010 and will continue until the school opens next year in April.

The School is also investing heavily in its curriculum that has been specially designed with the help of experts in curriculum development and Thailand’s leading spiritual advisor on Buddhist education, the Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro. The curriculum uses creative and progressive methods of delivery and teaching while meeting the Ministry of Education’s requirements.

For more details and enquiries, please visit (Thai website: Email [email protected] or call 080-0785115, 085-4846095.

School for the Blind receives 250,000 baht

On December 7th Pheunthai German International President for Thailand Wuttipong Arayatumsopon and Thailandfreunde donated a further 250,000 baht to the Northern School for the Blind, here the children, joined by Mr. Pramuan Ploykamonchun receive the check from President Wuttipong and Dirk Weeber-Araytumsopon, seen here in a wheelchair due to an accident at Suvarnabhumi airport from which he has yet to recover fully. The children sang a song in Thai composed especially for the occasion. In total, the school has received 600,000 baht in cash donations and a further 150,000 in clothing and equipment from Thailandfreunde. A new building, built from donations is expected to be finished early next year. Dirk Weeber-Araytumsopon was informed that he will receive an award from the Princess Galyani Foundation for his work with the handicapped. (Photo courtesty of Thailandfreunde).