Sunday, October 20, 2019

After ‘unfair’ ministry order, nursery teachers fear for jobs amid big debts

Sep 16. 2019
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By Jakkapong Rawiwan
The Nation

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Following last week’s tragedy in which a 43-year-old Kalasin motorcycle mechanic was stressed to the point that he committed suicide after the Interior Ministry dismissed his nursery teacher wife, fellow teachers admitted on Monday that they were all under “tremendous” stress, fearing for their jobs at a time when many of them have racked up a lot of debts.

They urged the ministry to review the “unfair” order, which they claimed had added to their woes.

After the August 23 order that 98 nursery teachers nationwide, including 10 in Kalasin, would lose their jobs immediately, motorcycle mechanic Niyom Phuphanom became highly stressful because his wife Piyawadee, who worked at Wat Ban Noen Sila Lerng Nursery School in Khong Chai district, was among the teachers who were dismissed. He committed suicide on September 12, leaving behind his wife and their two children with Bt1.5 million in debts.

The tragedy prompted People’s Network Against Corruption president and independent academic Somkid Homnak to draw up plans to have the affected teachers’ representatives submit a petition to the Office of the PM’s Secretary on Tuesday, seeking remedial measures and asking related agencies to solve the problem.

Somkid had said on Sunday that the ministry order wasn’t legitimate as the 98 teachers, deemed disqualified by nursery teachers’ standards 2015, had been recruited as nursery teachers and certified by the nursery teachers’ standards 2010. Also, 80 of them had obtained Master’s degrees afterwards, so there was no valid reason for them to lose their jobs, he added.

On Monday, Piyawadee’s colleague Wannita Wimanay told The Nation that she had been recruited to teach at the nursery since 2012 and had an educational diploma as required at the time. Then the Interior Ministry issued a series of memos regarding qualifications in the past 4-5 years, prompting the teachers to undertake further studies, but another memo was issued on August 23 terminating the 98 nursery teachers, including Wannita.

“I feel disheartened and I’m under tremendous stress,” she said. “I wonder why I was terminated despite having met the ministry’s qualifications. My family and relatives are all shocked as I don’t know what to do now.”

Wannita said many nursery teachers were their families’ breadwinners, so they would be severely hit. They would now call for justice from related agencies, thanks to Somkid’s help, she said.

“I’m very worried and terrified after the order. I am also afraid that any of my family could be driven to suicide over the resulting stress if I have indeed lost my job and can’t repay our debts,” she added.

Wannita’s mother Nopad Boonkobut said the family was shocked and saddened over the loss of her job.

“It is unfair that you have been working hard and then one day you are just told to go, without having done anything wrong,” Nopad said. “It’s unfair to villagers like us. I love my daughter and I worked hard to give her an education so she could get her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and pass on knowledge to children. Now this order has forced her out of a job.

“We live every day in fear. What are we going to do? How are we going to survive and repay our debts? I have requested the officials to please review this order and provide us with remedies. Please don’t bully teachers. They should instead be encouraged to teach pupils for the sake of the country’s development,” the mother said.

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