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The 12-year-old son of Burmese migrant labourers has topped all Thai students to win the Thai language handwriting competition for primary school level announced on Tuesday to mark National Thai Language Day.
Yasa, a Grade 3 student at Arunmetha School in Tak’s Educational Zone 2, who was born and raised in Thailand, won the contest, announced the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC).
OBEC secretary-general Kamol Rodkhai said Yasa had won one of several contests under the “Raksa Pasa Thai” (preserve Thai language) activity. He presented plaques to teachers and students who achieved Thai language proficiency.
The contests were aimed at encouraging children and youths to preserve the language and raise awareness of the value of Thai language.
The students were urged to read, write and use the language correctly.
Saeng-arun Sonsaen, Yasa’s teacher, expressed her delight that her student won the award, saying he concentrated on classroom learning and had beautiful handwriting.
The boy had been selected to represent the school at the contest, she said.
According to the teacher, about 30 percent of students at Arunmetha School, which is under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, come from poor families living in border areas. She said they pay more attention to Thai language learning than other Thai students.
Yasa was born to Burmese migrants working as hired hands at a crop plantation in Tak province’s Phop Phra district.
“Yasa earlier studied at a Myanmar learning centre in the compound of a Thai temple in the district before enrolling at Arunmetha School,” said Ms Saeng-arun.
“The boy was 10 when he studied at Grade 1 at the school. At the time, he could not write Thai. His Thai language skills improved significantly after studying at the school. He is determined and concentrates on his classroom learning, particularly on Thai language.”
Thongsuk Yoosri, director of Tak’s Educational Zone 1, said he felt proud after learning the Burmese student won the Thai writing contest. This shows that children of any nationality and religion are able to develop their potential, he said.
Mr Kamol said the OBEC was looking into the possibility of using Thai language in social media, such as Facebook and Line, as part of the curriculum, to help boost its appeal and usage among teenagers.
This article was originally published in the Bangkok Post on 30 July 2014.