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Late teacher, creator of Manee and friends, inspired a generation

Apr 16. 2014
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By The Nation

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THE author of Thais' best loved set of schoolbooks, "Manee, Mana, Piti, and Chujai", died peacefully at the age of 82 on Tuesday night.
Ratchanee Sripaiwan is fondly remembered for her Thai-language mastery, precious contributions to Thai-language teaching, and outstanding quality as a teacher.
“She was an exemplary teacher,” Panor Thamniam-in said. 
“Even after her death, she will continue to teach. She has donated her body to Mahidol University.”
Panor produced an educational radio programme alongside Ratchanee, a winner of the Naratip Award from the Writers’ Association of Thailand. 
Panor said Ratchanee’s former students would gather at Vichaiyut Hospital at 9.30am today to bid their last farewell to their beloved teacher. Mahidol University is scheduled to pick up Ratchanee’s body at 10am. 
Ratchanee leaves behind her husband, Mongkhon Sripaiwan, who is also in his 80s, and the “Manee, Mana, Piti, and Chujai” legacy. 
Books that built a foundation
This set of schoolbooks was used to teach Thai language to Pathom 1-6 students between 1978 and 1994.
Manee, Mana, Piti and Chujai are main characters in the textbooks that featured simple illustrations. 
While teaching Thai words and grammar, these characters also offered a glimpse into rural life and touched on beautiful friendships. 
Many primary students during those decades were inspired to read their Thai-language textbooks well in advance to know more about the stories of Manee, her friends and her neighbours. 
In front of the textbooks was a map of Manee’s village. 
Illustrators were Triam Chachumporn, Ohm Rajjavej, and Pathom Puapimon. 
Inspired by the popular textbooks, Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of architecture staged a drama under the name of “Manee and Chujai” in 1998.
In 2001, a day magazine launched a series about Mana, Manee, Piti and Chujai. 
This set of much-loved textbooks has indeed become a rich source of inspiration for many. 
Panor said Australia had also used the “Manee, Mana, Piti, and Chujai” textbooks in teaching Thai language.

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