Student mini-rebellion in Korat yields results

Students demanded transparency & how money collected from their parents had been spent. After protest on football field, slapping of 11-grade student leader & verbal abuse by vice principal, students did get their money back.

The video clip below, posted by a YouTube user named คลิปตลก, shows at 1.55 the moment when Soeng Sang school deputy director Isoonpiyathorn Jutjatham slaps a young protester. (Original video from Facebook user Pag Pratchayanon)

EDUCATION

Student mini-rebellion in Korat yields results

Last week, students at Soeng Sang School in Nakhon Ratchasima demanded to know how the money collected from their parents had been spent.

In other words, the students demanded transparency, a thorough accounting of how their money had been spent, a fundamental pillar of good governance (read the central bank governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul explaining the importance of transparency & good governance here).

They were specifically interested in 200 baht collected from each student to pay for a SMS service to help the school stay in touch with students and their parents.

This is admittedly pretty sophisticated stuff for middle school students.

PROTEST LAUNCHED

Led by an 11th grader, on Friday students skipped classes and assembled on the school football field in protest.

The Vice Principal, Isoonpiyathorn Jutjatham confronted the young protesters.

A video clip recorded by one of the young protesters shows the principal being booed by the students for his hot-headed intimidating approach and failure to clearly answer the young protest leader’s questions.

YOU CAN’T HURT THE KID, YOU MUST TALK TO HIM

Apparently, unable to control his anger (anger management), the vice principal threw a soft drink can on the ground and stamped on it with his feet.

Then, he slapped the eleventh grade leader on the head.

He showered verbal abuse on the child: “Can I see your dick ? Are you a man or a woman ? You know Muay Thai? You wanna go?”

“Why do we have to use violence?” The student meekly replied.

Then, the PE teacher intervened and warned the principal: “You can’t hurt the kid. You must talk to them.”

PROTEST AFTERMATH

After everything cooled down, a committee was set up to investigate the incident with the vice principal transferred to an inactive post outside the district pending the investigation.

The eleventh grade protest leader who was hit said he would not pursue assault charges with the police but the hot-headed vice principal, in the end, still refused to apologise for hitting the student, claiming his acts were motivated by “teacher spirit.”

As a result of the protest the SMS project was suspended indefinitely and parents who paid the 200 baht would got their money back the next week. The school had received in total about 100,000 baht from the parents.

TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY

Finally, it is worth noting that transparency and accountability, demanded and finally received here, are important aspects of good governance.

The lessons are more broadly applicable, even to temple finances, for instance.

Despite collecting billions of baht in donations every year, Buddhist temples in Thailand usually do not have proper accounting systems, in one case millions in baht in donation money was even stashed in a storage room at a temple.

Without accounting systems, it is impossible for the public to see how the donation money was spent or even whether it was possibly stolen by some unscrupulous person.

Demands for such accounting systems and accountability have arisen recently in calls for reform.

In one case, last week the director of the Songkhla Provincial Office of Buddhism was arrested for allegedly stealing 3.2 million baht from the budget of a temple in Narathiwat province