You may remember this picture I took of students at Ban Khun Samut School in Samut Prakan. This is the school that is surrounded by the sea at high tide. It became famous for all the wrong reasons. Due to land erosion and possibly rising sea levels, the local residents have had to move four or five times in the last 50 years or so. Environmentalists blame global warming. Others point fingers at locals who ripped up the mangrove forests in order to build shrimp farms. The community school was moved further inland in the early 1980’s after it came under threat from the sea. The only permanent structure to remain belonged to the local temple. This became know as “The Temple in the Sea”.
I have been to the school three or four times now mainly to volunteer as an English teacher. Before we turned up, the students had never spoken to a foreigner before. On our first day, we were surprised to see that the students were unable to line up in the school playground for morning assembly. This was because it was flooded due to high tide. In fact, it flooded so often that it was more often than not a muddy field throughout the year. Despite moving inland thirty years ago the sea had already started to catch up with them again.
In my previous report at thai-blogs.com, I shared with you pictures of the wooden support pillars that had rotted away. The classroom at one end of the building had to be abandoned and was locked when I first went there. I guess it was inevitable that eventually this classroom would collapse into the canal behind the building. In doing so, it dragged neighbouring classrooms down too. This happened last Sunday when fortunately the school was closed. No-one was hurt during this incident. However, the school has now been closed and the students have nowhere to learn.
The local education authority have tried to close this school before as it has less than 30 enrolled students. The local community fought hard to keep it open. I really hope that they now won’t use this as an excuse to close the school. It would seem that only this one row of classrooms have been affected. The other wing has concrete pillars as its support. Of course, if they can raise enough money to rebuild again, they need to decide whether to build where they are now, or again move further inland. But of course, if they do that, it wouldn’t be serving the local community who are still there.
Maybe the local temple who have received millions of baht in donations recently could send some money their way to help the rebuilding. I will keep you posted as this story progresses.