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With the Lisu People in Northern Thailand

School for Everybody

FEB 2019

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© W. Kaspar-Sickermann

Click the images! You will get blow ups!
The video-clips are essential part of this page!!

Actually these are audioclips with images

In August 1985 I was again guest of Abepha in Lisu Ban Lao Tha.
It was in the evening, absolute darkness outside. In the hut a kerosene lamp gave a faint light. Abepha and two of his relatives wrote in exercise books and read loudly simple texts. That was curious.

Abepha is writing
Three adults with homeworks

It is better to make the homeworks together [1985]

flash light !

Three adults with homeworks

without flash light!

Reading in Thai
    30 s 
button videoclip

These three adults knew already how to read and to write in Thai.
Now there was a teacher in the village and they had the opportunity to enhance their knowledge.

duenne Trennlinie

Linguistically, the Lisu belong to the sino-tibetan family. It is believed that the Lisu originally came from eastern Tibet to Yunnan, where they lived for centuries. In the late 19th and beginning 20th century some of them moved to northern Thailand. Among each other they speak Lisu. Thai is their second language.

All the years members of the border police had given some lessons. So the Lisu had a basic knowlegde how to read, to write and to calculate.

The teacher, a 22 years young Thai woman came from the Chiang Mai Teacher College. She told me, that she lived in the village for about five months, teaching several evenings in the week. She had free accomodation and food but no salary. All that was very surprising for me. At that time Thai people usually avoided to come into this region near the border, not developped and in some way creepy.

Lessons in the kitchen of the Phu Yai Ban

Lessons in the kitchen of the Phu Yai Ban

Adults learn similarly as boys and girls do

Adults learn similarly as boys and girls do

School took place in the kitchen room of the Phu Yai Ban's (chieftain of the village) house. They used even normal school desks.

calculation of a volume, text

calculation of a volume, text

exercise in clean copy

exercise in clean copy

The teacher had written an exercise at the table, already with the solution. You may see it in clean copy here above.
In the first line (twice) is the date: Monday, 19th of August 1985 (2528 Buddhist Era).
The definition of a cubic metre stands in the second line (length 1m x width 1m x depth 1m)

Nr. 1 (the task):
"Uncle Tum digs a hole to bury pigs, which died of an epidemic desease on his ground,
with an extent of width 2m  length 2m  depth 2m .
So this pit will have a volume of 8 cubic metres.

Nr. 2 is a table for the conversion of some units of length.

At first she read the whole text to the class (except the date). Then she read and the class repeated (here as a short video, at the end of this page in the whole length and with a larger picture). Later her pupils read quite alone.

calculation of a volume
    28 s 
button videoclip

happy pupils
happy pupils

The lesson was tightly organized. But the teacher taught so easy-going, that her pupils were happy and bouncy. I hope that they didn't make a joke about me in this videoclip.

A joyous lesson
    25 s 
button videoclip

There were more calculations including money. At least the teacher wrote a text on the table which puzzled me.

To understand this you must know, that this small village, that only some years before had nothing but bamboo huts, now showed a certain prosperity, which apparently based on the vicinity to the border and to drugs.

Teaching the Lisu

Text to be copied and to be read, control of presence

Text in clean copy

Text in clean copy

This woman was rather courageous. I couldn't believe: she told them to write and to read the following text:

Opium, hash, heroin are drugs.
The possession of drugs is an offence against the law. People who use drugs
will become weak and lazy. They do not work,
they must consume drugs more and more. Some of them steal the valuables of other people
and sell them to get money for drugs. By this they
plunge their victims into misery.
[Opium] smoke   misery   theft"

As before the teacher herself read out aloud, then she read and the class repeated. Finally the pupils read aloud without the teacher. You may hear it in the videoclip. He or she who listens well can understand the words
feen (=opium), gantschar (=hash) and heroin.

to read and to write
    54 s 
button videoclip

tall and little ones, boys and girls, they all take part

tall and little ones, boys and girls, they all take part

The end of the lesson was near. A pupil said to the teacher "I can learn but I cannot keep it". Altogether they spoke a Buddhist prayer, a bell rang and then they chanted the praises of the king.

end of the lesson
  01:27 min 
button videoclip

    45 s 
button Audio

in the evening school

that was rather strenuous

The teacher had allowed me to attend the lesson without previous announcement. Therefore the topics were not prepared especially for me, sure. - Well, I disturbed by my presence and with my flash light. Anyway I do not believe, that the lesson would have been much different without me.

It seems to me important to mention, that since my visit in 2018 I am convinced that the drug story now is past history in that village.

Pfeil nach oben
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Here is a videoclip with large images for all who want to read the original text of the
"calculation of volume".
12 MB  some patience please whren downloading!

volume, long version
  01:40 min 
button videoclip

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