By SOMCHAI SAMART
“The move reflects the shared commitment to create peace in the southern border provinces,” Deputy Education Minister Lt-General Surachet Chaiwong said during his recent trip to the country’s southernmost region.
The trip included a visit to Fatoni University in Pattani, where a memorandum of understanding on academic cooperation was inked.
The deep South mostly refers to Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat. Unrest has raged through this region for more than a decade now, with violent incidents happening almost on a daily basis. Most people in Thailand’s deep South are Muslims while the majority of the Thai population are Buddhists.
There are concerns that nationalism and ethnic ideas may be dividing people in the area.
Lately, there has been an uproar about Muslim students being unable to wear hijab to the Anuban Pattani School that is located in a monastic compound.
The MoU was signed by Fatoni University, Prince of Songkla University’s Pattani Campus, Princess of Naradhiwas University, Yala Rajabhat University, Thaksin University, vocational institutes in the three southernmost provinces, the Education Ministry’s coordination centre for border southern provinces and the Forward Command of Isoc Region 4.
Asst Professor Ismail Lutfi Japakiya, rector of Fatoni University, said his institute had joined the initiative as it wanted to respond to public expectations for solutions to solve and develop the southernmost region through peaceful means.
Fatoni University is the only privately run Islamic higher-education institute in the deep South.
Its students include both Muslims and believers of other religions. This institute has attracted students from as many as 25 nations.
Ismail said his university was ready to promote social development in Thailand and beyond.
“We also teach Peace Studies,” he said.