Playing football after school


Komsan loves school. The grounds around Soblan School in the Omkoi district of Thailand are his second home. He lives, learns and plays here. What's more, thanks to our project, Komsan has never had any problems understanding his teachers – even though the language of instruction is not Thai, his mother tongue.


When school is out, Komsan finally gets to pursue his favourite pastime: playing football. Surrounded by the idyllic mountain landscape is the dry field with an aging wooden grandstand at the side. This is where Komsan and his friends can chase after a ball that is not quite as bouncy as it used to be. But Komsan is not concerned about the circumstances. Playing football is a way for the ten-year-old to switch off from everyday school life, run around, play and have some fun. Because the rest of his life is anything but child's play.

Komsan has not seen his father for almost a year. He is serving a prison sentence for illegally selling timber. He only sees his mother and brother on weekends. The journey to school is far too long to travel every day. That is why he spends most of the week in the school dormitory.

In the afternoon, towards the end of class, Komsan carries out his chores. Today he is cleaning the school toilets. Slowly but thoroughly, he cleans the individual cubicles with two fellow students. The students also learn to do housework in the dormitory. In the morning he helped with cleaning and watering the plants, and later he will wash his school uniform by hand and help cook dinner.


At school, Komsan is taking classes in science, life skills, art and maths – his favourite subject! Of course, Thai is also on the schedule. For this young boy, it started out as a foreign language, because like most of his classmates, Komsan belongs to the Karen people, who speak their own language. In the past, it was particularly difficult for people from the Karen community to integrate into the school system because they did not understand Thai as the language of instruction. School dropout rates in these parts of the country were extremely high. Thanks to our project, the mother tongue has been integrated into the school curriculum during the first few years and the teachers have been trained in bilingual teaching. This way, teachers who speak both languages can teach bilingually. Teachers who only speak Thai are supported by local assistants in order to ensure that both languages are spoken in these classes and that every student understands what is being taught. Komsan thinks it's great: "Now I'm bilingual! And I have never had any problems following the lessons."

The programme is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA.