Assist the local teachers with teaching in these large classrooms that can have up to 40 children in at one time.
According to the central bank, Thailand is among the world’s top education spenders relative to its size, allocating roughly 20% of its annual budget to education. But despite this Thailand produces a workforce with some of the world’s weakest English-language skills. The IMD ranks Thailand 54th of 56 countries globally for English proficiency, the second-lowest in Asia.
Thailand’s education system is traditionally embedded with an inward-looking curriculum that places an emphasis on rote-learning (a memorization technique based on repetition) and basic literacy. We support a school in Patum Thani where such an education system is prevalent.
The locally government ran school founded in 2010 is home to nearly 300 4 to 5 year olds who are preparing to enter grade school. The school is split into two learning groups referred to as A1 and A2. Adjacent to the school is the pre-school building which is home to around 150 children and where our childcare volunteers are based.
Originally in 2009, the school overall was just home to pre-school children of 3 to 4 year olds and A1 and A2 school blocks did not exist. However the reputation and philosophy of the school grew so quickly that a year later expansions were made into a new segment for children a little older referred to as A1 and A2. Here there is a greater emphasis placed on the teaching and structure aspects to help prepare the children as much as possible for their next step into grade school.
The school comes with 7 well furnished and equipped air conditioned classrooms and a strong teacher network and overall infrastructure to match. This extends into nice open spaces and well developed playground facilities for the children to enjoy in physical education and free play.
It is worth noting that although the school as a whole will appear quite well off and developed from the outside looking in; the reality is this is not the case overall with many of the children coming from underprivileged backgrounds.
Education here is free to those who are from the local village in the surrounding area. In the province each village has its own local government and the underlying aim of this local government was and remains to provide free accessible education and care to the children. This also incorporates embedding life skills, routines and positive behaviours as part of this commitment that the parents of the children must coincide with. Prior to this such opportunities were not forthcoming for the local children.
For our team it is a positive to have such an establishment available on their doorstep for the children from under resourced areas. This is because it shows the local government is investing taxes back into the right areas for future growth and development within the local education infrastructure as oppose to say other corrupt avenues.
You should arrive into Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok (airport code BKK) on the selected Saturday start date. You will be met at the airport by one of our local staff or an appointed driver who will be holding a named sign. They will take you to your accommodation where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure.
The programme ends on the Saturday of your final week and you should depart the accommodation on this day.
ESSENTIAL PROGRAM INFORMATION
For the majority of our programmes you can apply at any time. However, we advise that you apply as soon as possible to ensure we have availability on the programme – particularly if you’re looking to travel between June and August, as spaces can fill up very quickly during this period.
It is best that you apply sooner rather than later as some of our programmes only have a limited capacity and spaces get filled very quickly.
Can I use this program as part of a university or college placement?
It is certainly possible to use one of PMGY’s programmes as part of your university or college placement. Project staff can sign off any paperwork required by your course tutors. PMGY regularly receives medical, childcare, psychology and nursing placement students at our projects around the world and we have ties with some of the leading universities.
If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programmes could meet the placement requirements for your degree course then please contact us.
Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?
Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we always ensure our host locations are safe. Each programme has been extensively researched and has passed our strict vetting process. Our UK team undergo an extensive routine when establishing our in-country infrastructures and we continue to monitor our safety procedures on a regular basis. Furthermore, we monitor the stability of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis. Through our constant contact with consulates and embassies and our reports from our overseas teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable regions.
The PMGY team have visited and participated in every programme we offer and verified them based on our own independent criteria. We carefully inspect every little detail of our set-up. From inspecting the living conditions, checking out the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, to tasting the food you’ll be eating – each and every programme we establish has gone through a lengthy and rigorous vetting process. Risk assessments have been written for all areas in which PMGY operate and our experienced local coordinators are always on-hand to manage any emergencies that may occur. Our UK team are always on the road reviewing our risk management procedures in the field and monitoring local conditions.
In emergency situations we have the necessary protocols and equipment in place and we are able to evacuate our volunteers from potential dangers. Our local coordinators are trained to deal with emergency circumstances.
All volunteers will receive a PMGY Volunteer Handbook once they have paid their deposit and confirmed their place on the programme. We will send you an email entitled ‘Welcome to PMGY’ which will include a link where you can download the Volunteer Handbook. Please note that we DO NOT send a hardcopy of the PMGY Volunteer Handbook.
This Handbook contains literally everything you need to know – from what to pack, to how to obtain a visa, to local language guides. It is really important that you read through the Volunteer Handbook carefully once you’ve downloaded it. If you require any further information not covered in the Volunteer Handbook then our team are always on-hand to assist you.
Volunteers’ role is needed to assist the local teachers with teaching in these large classrooms that can have up to 40 children in at one time. It can be a great tool to learn some basic English, pronunciation and phonics for the children just through having a native English speaker present.
It is often the case that the teachers themselves (including the designated English teachers) have very limited English and thus the presence of a native English speaker cannot be undervalued. Volunteers are encouraged outside of classes to spend time with the teachers helping to improve their English skills and understanding.
Volunteers not only improve the children’s English but also provide them with a meaningful insight into global cultures. From arriving early morning at the project, volunteers too will get the unique experience of immersing themselves within the Thai culture at the school partaking in the morning assembly. This extends from abiding the national anthem to getting involved with chanting and meditation exercises. This is a really cool experience and you may even be invited to introduce yourself in front of the whole assembly as well!
Usually after assembly children head to respective classrooms where they will spend the next couple hours engaging in and learning new topics. After lunch and nap time the teacher will usually recap the learnings from earlier in the day, play some games to wind down and set any homework as appropriate. Volunteers are encouraged to support and lead where possible in the both sessions.
It is usually the case that such learning on say one subject is introduced as part of a weekly syllabus and then embedded across the week with activities and resources to match before moving onto any further topics. Subjects generally covered include Maths, English, Geography, Science or learning about important Thai festivals and holidays.
It is therefore important that you create lesson plans and learning activities relevant to the topic and subject in advance in order to make your classes as fun, engaging and relevant as possible.
IN & AROUND BANGKOK
PMGY volunteers are based in the suburbs of Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital city. It’s a city of contrasts. Modern yet cultural, chaotic, traditional and bizarre – you will never get bored in Bangkok we can assure you of that!
Here air conditioned megamalls sit side-by-side with 200-year-old village homes; gold-spired Buddhist temples share space with neon-lit, bar lined strips; slow-moving traffic bypassed by long-tail boats plying the royal river; and streets lined with food carts are overlooked by restaurants on top of skyscrapers.
The great thing about Bangkok is although it is pretty vast, getting around is simple, fast and affordable with the BTS (inner city rail network). Which also means the great nightlife is easy to get to too whether its backpacker central on Koh San Road or catching some great live music at one of the cool bars near Victory Monument.
The Grand Palace was once the official home of the Kings of Siam. It is unquestionably one of Thailand’s major tourist must-sees. The complex houses a number of top attractions including Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). This 45 centimetre Emerald Buddha carved from just one piece of jade is the holiest and most revered religious object in Thailand.
Wat Pho is another amazing 8 hectare compound incorporating a host of superlatives: the city’s largest reclining Buddha (46 metres long – genuinely impressive!), the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand and the country’s earliest centre for public education.
Chatuchak Market is among the largest in the world and seems to unite everything buyable, from used vintage sneakers to baby squirrels within its 15,000 stalls. It is well worth a full day here as there’s a plethora of things to see and do, but make sure you’re there early to beat the crowds and the heat.
KHAO YAI NATIONAL PARK
Cool and lush, Khao Yai National Park is Thailand’s oldest reserve and an easy escape into the jungle. The 2168-sq-km park, part of a Unesco World Heritage site, spans five forest types, from rainforest to monsoon. The park’s centrepiece is Nam Tok Haew Suwat, a 25m-high waterfall that puts on a thundering show in the rainy season.
Around 200 elephants tramp the park’s boundaries. Other mammals include tigers, leopards, bears, gaur, barking deer, otters, various gibbons and macaques and some rather large pythons. The bird list boasts 392 species, and one of the countries largest populations of hornbills lives here.
AYUTTHAYA & BANG PA
The temple town of Ayutthaya, formerly Thailand’s capital, and the nearby Summer Palace compound of Bang Pa-In are both popular day trips from Bangkok and easily accessible. Ayutthaya’s temples are magnificent — both Khmer and Thai-style ruins lie along the rivers here, in what was once Thailand’s greatest city.
You will be picked up at the airport by the Plan My Gap Year team and taken to your accommodation.
If you would like us to also arrange your return, we will charge a fee of £15.
During your time with PMGY in Thailand you will live in our Volunteer House located in the town of Pathum Thani, a safe and quiet suburb of Bangkok and around one hours drive from the main tourist areas such as Koh San Road. Much like London and other big cities around the world, Bangkok has an inner-city rail system (known as the BTS), which makes getting around the city cheap, convenient and fast. There are regular buses and vans which provide a quick and affordable route into the centre of the city.
The house is a local property within an extremely safe and quiet neighbourhood. It is around a 30 minute walk from the main street where you will find local restaurants, convenience stores and ATMs.
All volunteers stay together in the Volunteer House. The accommodation is basic but comfortable with free Wi-Fi (intermittent). Our local team are close by so you will have daily interaction with our team.
There are fans throughout the house and the bathrooms are of western standard. Rooms are shared, up to 10 per room (all bedding and mosquito net is provided).
We encourage you to bring some small padlocks for your suitcase and/or store any valuables with our local team in their private area. There will also be fridge space available for volunteers to store any items they need to keep chilled.
The local coordinators live within a short distance of the house and are on-call 24/7 should you need anything.
During our busiest months (June to September) you may be placed at alternative accommodation. This could be a nearby guesthouse or one of our summer Volunteer Houses.
You will be served breakfast and dinner everyday at the Volunteer House. Most meals are traditional Thai dishes that can be typically quite spicy. Thai cuisine consists of a lot of rice, noodles and the meat is mainly fish or chicken – vegetarian options are always available.
All meals are freshly prepared each day. If you fancy some western comforts, you are best to head into Bangkok where you will find plenty of restaurants serving western meals.
You are required to purchase your own lunch and there is plenty of options during the lunch break at the project on the main street of Pathum Thani around a 25 minute walk from the project. This includes traditional Thai street food options as well as a 7/11 supermarket where volunteers can get western lunch options such as ham and cheese toasties, spaghetti carbonara and sausage sandwiches.