Monday, August 27, 2012

Those Ubiquitous Thai School Uniforms

School kids, as seen in the "Gift of a Lifetime" post

Throughout Thailand you'll see them: millions of children heading to and from school in their regulation attire. You'll see them in a lot of other places around town, too, because most of them don't go directly to and from home any more regularly than we did as kids; stopping for snacks, to play with friends, shop, and do everyday things. On any laundry day you'll see the same uniforms hanging in the yards of houses, apartments, and condos. Many times I've seen them hanging on balconies with the rest of the laundry to dry.

Two boys having ice cream at a school luncheon

According to figures I've seen there are almost 6 million primary students in Thailand, 4.7 million in secondary schools and over three quarters of a million in vocational education. Education is compulsory for the first 9 grades of school, and the government pays for much of it, as it should. Evidently they're not doing too bad a job of it, as the completion rate is just shy of 82% and the literacy rate for youth aged 15-24 is 97.98%. Figures and statistics can be manipulated from hell to breakfast, so take these with as many grains of salt as you wish, but we're in the ballpark.

Some of the hundreds of uniform items in the story I visited

While out shopping with one of the students I sponsor there this last trip they were interested in buying some sports equipment with their allotted spending money, and we'd stopped in at a shop that just happened to sell uniforms for some of the schools in Pattaya. Many of the students from more humble homes are quite pleased to have the proper clothing and equipment for their favorite sport, and I've bought my share of soccer balls, shin guards and cleats for them at different times.

While I was waiting for the clerk to tally my total I looked around the shop and found a large corner of it stocked with the very uniforms I'd seen around the city. In addition to the uniforms there was another small shop just next door that did the custom stitching of the school and student's name. I'd been to similar stores here in the U.S. during my own school days, but only to buy the required attire for the physical education classes, one of my least favorite parts of my school day. 

While today's post may not be as interesting to everyone as some aspects of Thai life, it's very much a part of it.

Some families are hard pressed to come up with the funds for their part of the school costs, and that gives me another opportunity to suggest that if you can afford $10 a month you might want to to check out the Pattaya Street Kids Support Project site and help. A year's donation will mean you have two or three less dinners out a year, but it can make a lasting difference in the life of a child - and their children to come. As I've said before, we can't save the world, but we can save little pieces of it.


krobbie said...

The last paragraph sums you up Bao-Bao. Bravo!

I was talking to Bobey about his daughter who has Cerebral Palsy last night and because she lives in a rural area she is unable to get to a school for disabled (there isn't one) so we pay for tuition at her home. All well and good but she misses out on the socialisation aspect of school which I think is important.

I have suggested that Bobey's ex-wife move back to Bangkok in the near future where there are integrated schools for the disabled and non disabled.

I am sure it will have a beneficial effect on Husna and her studies.

I hope to have some news for you soon regarding B & me.


khunbaobao said...

Thanks, Keith - that was kind of you to say. I hope Bobey finds a way of getting a bit more peer time for Husna, and I'll await The News!