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School CP - August 2008

Corpun file 20533

Bangkok Post, 20 August 2008

Student protesters caned by teacher

Pupils marched against their school's eviction

Post Reporters

A teacher at a school facing relocation to make way for the new parliamentary site has been accused of caning eight students, including a girl who was allegedly struck 18 consecutive times.

They were accused of skipping classes to attend a protest against the relocation of Yothinburana school in Dusit district, Bangkok, to clear the land for construction of the new parliament.

They were allegedly caned by a teacher identified as Suwattana Permpool as punishment for the apparent truancy, but their parents complained the punishment was too harsh.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the aunt of a Mathayom 2 (grade 8) student said her niece was caned 18 times by Ms Suwattana on Monday for attending Friday's protest.

More than 500 students from the school had joined the protest march to Government House.

But the student who was allegedly caned 18 times said she had not even joined the protest march.

She said the teacher struck her 18 consecutive times in full view of other students in the classroom, but the other alleged truants _ who she said had joined the protest _ were caned only a few times each. They would apparently receive the remainder of their canings at a later date, in ''installments''.

The girl's parents took her to Vichaiyut hospital in Phaya Thai for a physical examination and presented the results to police at Tao Poon station yesterday as evidence of their complaint.

They also called on the school director to take responsibility for the alleged misdemeanour and to launch a disciplinary investigation of Ms Suwattana.

The girl's mother said a deputy director at the school had offered to mediate the complaint, but she refused.

She accepted that teachers were within their rights to discipline children who misbehaved, but also said teachers who went beyond acceptable levels of punishment should be held to account.

The mother backed up the girl's claims that she had not participated in Friday's protest.

On that day, lessons were proceeding as usual, but the school later dismissed classes because hundreds of its students were planning to join the march.

The parents of the eight students will seek an explanation from the school director today.

Neither the school director nor Ms Suwattana could be reached for comment yesterday.

Khunying Kasama Voravarn na Ayutthaya, secretary-general of the Office of the Basic Education Commission, said regulations do not permit corporal punishment of students, such as caning. Instead, teachers must use verbal reasoning to discipline students.

She said the Education Ministry will set up an inquiry panel to look into the matter.

The contentious new parliamentary site will occupy a 130-rai plot by the Chao Phraya river in Kiakkai, Bangkok.

The land is currently occupied by agencies under the Defence Ministry, Yothinburana School and residential communities.

The cabinet last month approved a compensation package of four billion baht for state-run agencies and communities to be affected by the construction of the new parliament.

Students from Yothinburana school, which occupies eight rai of the 130-rai plot, oppose the change.

The 73-year-old school has about 3,700 students.

Yothinburana school will be relocated only after a replacement institution near Wat Soi Thong in Bang Sue district is completed. Construction should take about two years.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej earlier said the school would be relocated to a 16-rai plot of the Defence Ministry, only 1.7 kilometres away from its present location.

The government would give one billion baht for construction of the new school, he promised.

Copyright The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd.

Corpun file 20532

Bangkok Post, 21 August 2008


Students caned for absence, not protest

No political motive for pupils' punishment

The caning of eight students at Yothinburana school was unrelated to their attendance at a protest against the relocation of the school to make way for a new government building, deputy secretary-general of the Basic Education Commission Mangkorn Kullavanich said yesterday.

The commission asked school heads and the Office of Bangkok Education Zone 1, which supervises the school, about reports eight students were caned after they took part in the protest.

The school said they were caned as punishment for their unexplained absence from class.

The punishment had nothing to do with the students' participation in the protest last Friday, said Mr Mangkorn.

School director Manop Noppasirikul reported the incident to the commission.

According to the school, in Bangkok's Dusit district, only five were caned by physical education teacher Suwattana Permpool on Monday.

The other three were not punished after providing sound reasons for their absence.

Parents of the students withdrew their complaints against the teacher filed with Tao Poon police after receiving explanations from the school director, said Mr Mangkorn.

Earlier, the aunt of a Mathayom 2 (Grade 8) student said her niece was caned 18 times by Mrs Suwattana on Monday for attending the protest march.

Her niece was among eight students who were caned, she said.

More than 500 students from the school had joined the march to Government House to demonstrate their opposition to the relocation plan, which would clear land for the new parliamentary site.

Kotchawan Pipatbundit, mother of a Yothinburana school student, said a group of parents whose children study there would join the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy's march to the school tomorrow to give moral support to students.

She had not yet met parents of the caned students, but those parents had joined their children in Friday's protest march to Government House.

The new parliamentary site will occupy a 119-rai plot on the Chao Phraya river in Kiakkai.

The land is currently occupied by agencies under the Defence Ministry, Yothinburana and residential areas.

The school, which occupies eight rai, opposes the change.

Copyright The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd.

Corpun file 20531


The Nation, Bangkok, 21 August 2008

Teacher steps down after caning row but respected by students

Directors of Yothinburana School and the Bangkok Educational Region 1 office have insisted that students were punished because they skipped classes - not because they attended a protest at Parliament House last Friday.

Mungkorn Kulvanich, deputy secretary general of the Basic Education Commission, said directors told him teachers had punished students because they skipped classes.

The punishment was part of an arrangement between the teacher and students - that anyone absent would be caned, Mungkorn explained.

Earlier, teacher Suwattana Permpoon was reported to have disciplined one of eight Mathayom 2 (Grade 8) students with up to 18 strokes of the cane on Monday, for skipping classes to attend a protest against the school being forced to move.

"Five of the eight students were caned but three others were not caned as they gave reliable explanations to the teacher," Mungkorn said.

Hundreds of Yothinburana students went to Parliament on Friday to protest after the school was told to relocate to make way for the new parliament.

The mother of one student claimed her daughter was caned 18 times by Suwattana on Monday even though she had not participated in the protest.

She said she took her daughter home on Friday and had already told a teacher that.

The mother was reported to have filed a complaint at Taopoon police station, accusing the teacher of overly harsh treatment of her girl.

But police said yesterday no one had filed any complaints against the teacher.

A Mathayom 2 student at the school, who asked not to be named, said Suwattana was in charge of Mathayom 2 students, responsible for checking which students were absent each day. If any were found to be absent she would cane them as many times as the number of periods they had missed. So the absent students had to be caned 18 times.

"Last Friday most higher secondary students went to the Parliament House to join the protest and the school also held a science project exhibition so there were a lot of lower secondary students who skipped classes," she said.

"The teacher misunderstood that the student who went back home with her mother skipped classes. She didn't know the girl's mother took her home and the student did not explain anything. When the teacher asked how many times she wanted her to be caned. She told the teacher to cane her 18 times consecutively though the teacher asked her many times if she really wanted her to do that."

Suwattana reportedly decided to quit as head of Mathayom 2 students after the incident.

The student said Suwattana was strict but most students respected her because she only punished those who did wrong things. She always helped students when they had problems so many were not happy that she had decided not to oversee Mathayom 2 students anymore.

2006 Nation Multimedia Group

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