Sunday, July 27, 2008

Going to School Thai Style

There is a Thai public school nearby. I haven't seen it, but evidence abounds. Each morning at about 8:00, the loud stern voice of a headmistress is carried via loudspeaker through the area. Apparently, it is not enough to give the announcements of the day and lecture the children about how to be good citizens, but the entire neighborhood in a half mile radius may as well benefit from the messages.

From 7:00-7:30, the main road through the moobahn is clogged with a stream of traffic carrying the young learners to their destination: Motorcycles, bicycles, taxis, private cars, pedestrians, and open trucks packed with blue and white clad children. A unit of police is on hand to attempt to conduct traffic at intersections, all the while blowing on whistles. The spectacle is reversed at 3 PM.

The trucks are a Thai version of a school bus. Obviously, safety standards are not at the same level as in western countries, but the mode is efficient, and drivers have no problems from unruly students: The young scholars are either packed tightly inside, or must cling to whatever handle is available while riding the rear bumper.
Thai schools are in session most of the year. Their longest break is during the hot season, generally all of April. Other week-long breaks and official holidays afford the students (and teachers) numerous breaks throughout the academic year, which begins in May.

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