Pandan and marigold cultivation on a floating raft made of bamboo and plastic bottles.
The Maharat Sub-district Non-Formal and Informal Education Centre (NFE) is located in the Maharat sub-district, Maharat district, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province, Thailand. It was developed from the village reading centre of Moo 4 (village no. 4).
The Department of Non-Formal Education (now called Of fice of the Non-Formal and Informal Education or ONIE) initiated the policy to organise community learning centres all over the country in order to have a unit for promoting learning activities in the local area.
The NFE Centre works as a learning hub at a sub-district level with a goal to provide every Thai citizen with qualitative Lifelong Learning. The Management Committee is composed of the local leader, school teachers, retired professionals, local elders, other community members, and the non-formal education facilitator. The Centre organises many learning activities based on community needs. It also mobilises resources and works with the sub-district committee to support learners.
Activities in the Centre can be divided in three groups; non-formal education, continuing education and informal education.
The bottles will help in supporting the raft to float in the water.
In non-formal education, the Centre of fers a literacy programme, a basic non-formal education programme (equivalent to grade 1–12) in the form of self-learning, weekend classes, and a distance education programme.
For continuing education the Centre of fers vocational training programmes and the education for life skills devel- opment programme. The latter is based on the needs of the community.
In informal education the Centre of fers a book corner, an ASEAN corner, radio and television educational media with CDs and a manual. There is also a corner for local heritage or local wisdom demonstrations.
The Maharat Sub-district NFE Centre is unique in its support of the community and the integrated life skill development programme. Together they carry the notion that this Centre belongs to the people, works for the people and is run by the people.
The people in Maharat are rice farmers, agriculturists and workers. Ever y year they face the challenge of the flood season. In 2011 there was a big flood in Thailand, the level of water in the district was about 2 metres. During the flood some villagers had to stay on rafts and did not have enough food. Af ter wards the people realized the problem of the vegetable and food shortage. They wanted to start growing vegetables and some herbs. Af ter a consultation with the NFE Centre facilitator and the agency concerned, pandan and marigold cultivation began on floating rafts. There is a lot of bamboo in the area, and the flood left many plastic water bottles behind. Stems of bamboo were used to make a raf t and plastic water bottles helped the rafts float.
The villagers can grow many things; pandan, marigold flower, many kinds of herbs, mint, lemongrass, etc. The NFE Centre facilitator organises courses to teach the villagers how to make a raft, and how to take care of plants in this specific plantation. This is a good example of how the Centre provides life skills and offers a vocational programme. The villagers have more vegetables to eat and they are able to earn some money by selling what they don’t need. Besides, their activities save the environment by re-using the plastic trash. We can say that this activity came from the need of the people and is a response to the theme of education for sustainable development.
Another vocational training programme offered is basket weaving using various materials such as bamboo, or plastic rope. This is yet another example of how to empower local people to be self-reliant and solve their own problems.
There are now elderly in the community who have started to forget how to read. At the same time some villagers act as public health volunteers. They need to complete grade 12 according to the requirement of Ministry of Public Health, so they enrol in the basic education programme in this centre. There are also some handicapped learners who cannot make it to school.
The Community Centre Committee realised the needs of these groups and asked volunteers to help with promoting reading. A group of NFE learners and some villagers now volunteer their time and effort to help the elderly to read, tutor the handicapped, and do other activities in the NFE Centre.
Parichart Yenjai, Planning Division,
Office of the Non-formal and Informal Education,
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