Teachers mourn fallen comrades

Teachers in the insurgency-plagued South on Thursday mourned 187 colleagues killed by suspected militants over the past 10 years as part of the annual National Teacher's Day.

In Narathiwat, about 350 teachers attached to Primary Educational Service Area Office 2 gathered at Sungai Kolok district office to hold activities to commemorate Teacher’s Day, which falls on Jan 16 every year.

The group stood in silence for one minute in memory of the 187 teachers who have lost their lives in violence in the restive three southernmost provinces since January 2004.   

They include Juling Pongkanmoon, a teacher at Ban Kuching Reupah School in Narathiwat's Rangae district, who was fatally beaten by villagers incited by militant sympathisers in 2007. 

Other events included a religious ritual for the deaths and a ceremony to give out awards and prizes to 10 teachers as moral support for their outstanding work and sacrifice in teaching students despite the risk of being targeted by insurgents.

Boossakorn Chanpraprai, a teacher from Sungai Padi district, appealed to the government to ease transfer regulations for teachers who want to move to another school if they feel their lives are in danger. Teachers are required to work at a school for a minimum two-year period before being entitled to file a transfer request. 

She warned the petitioners may be killed before their requests are granted and the government should not wait until that happens before taking action.

Similar ceremonies to mark Teacher’s Day were also held in neighbouring Yala and Pattani with thousands of teachers taking part. 

Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre secretary-general Pol Col Tawee Sodsong also attended a ceremony held at Yala Rajabhat University where he praised the devotion of southern teachers. “Teachers build people, people build the nation,” he said. 

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