Thai education officials are ready to buy pistols for teachers who remain at schools in a violence-ridden region of the country, even as thousands more teachers request transfers from the troubled area.
Growing violence in the three southern provinces that border Malaysia, some of it apparently aimed at educators, has prompted more than 3,500 teachers to make transfer requests, which officials have said they will honor for all those who are not local residents, according to press accounts. The moves have already resulted in teacher shortages in the region’s state-run schools and a drain on teachers in private Islamic schools, who have applied to take the vacated jobs.
The Ministry of Education last month approved spending money for guns that teachers could then buy for self-defense. A top military official has said the military also is ready to provide weapons training for educators, according to press accounts.
Government officials said a survey of teachers in the Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat provinces found that some 2,000 of them wanted the weapons, which they could pay for by borrowing from teachers’ cooperatives. The government is also willing to lend military weapons to teachers who cannot afford to buy them, officials said.
More than 700 people, including two dozen teachers, have been killed in the more than 18 months of unrest, which government officials and analysts blame on a mix of local Islamic separatists, organized crime, and smugglers.
A version of this article appeared in the August 10, 2005 edition of Education Week