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The P'Yan School Project is a voluntary initiative of international students that financed, planned and finally raised a school building for and with the P'Yan Daung School in Mae Sot, Thailand. The region of Mae Sot, close to the Burmese border, is shaped by the massive immigration of refugees fleeing from ethnic persecution and the consequences of the civil war in their home country. The P'Yan Daung School provides shelter and education for migrant children and gets supported by Help Without Frontiers and is therefore able to persist on the long run. Since the number of students increases through the closure of nearby schools, the PYD school had the urgent need for more classroom facilities.
We perceive our project as a platform of interaction and cross-cultural exchange with the future users and the team. It is as a chance for discovering the local manner of life and mindset. Hence we did not only work alongside on the construction, but shared leisure time and stories gaining true empathy. The team initiated several clay-workshops with the children to get feedback and ideas on the design of the building and to create an identifiaction with the project. Together we had wheelbarrow races, digged in the mud, practiced math and finally raised the school building within 2 intense, valuable months.
The region of Mae Sot, close to the Burmese border, is shaped by the massive immigration of refugees fleeing from ethnic persecution and the consequences of the civil war in their home country. This immigration takes place for several years already, so that besides the families with children immigrating from Burma, there are also many new generations born in Thailand with migration background, which will likely stay in Thailand as an integrative part of the soceity. According to estimates there are 3 times more Burmese than Thais in Mae Sot by now. However, Burmese children are not able to attend governmental Thai schools, because of language barriers. Hence, a vast number of Migrant Learning Centers established spontaneously, which are indeed registered at the Thai governement, but don‘t receive governmental support and have to be self-sufficient. The maintenance of this migrant schools mainly depends on international funds. By the change of the political situation in Burma, as well as in Thailand the international support decreases on and on, with the result that especially in the rural area many schools are forced to shut down, which leads to unsolved transportation problems and disadvantages for families living far out of the city.
We place big value in using traditional techniques and local ressources to ease the maintenance of the building and integrate it in the locally given social and demographic structures, also considering cultural and climatic circumstances.
Hence we used materials, such as clay, bamboo and 2nd hand wood to provide a low-cost classroom for up to 60 students including an outside space. Due to the advantages of the material clay in acclimatation and the cross-ventilation through upper lights and wall openings, does the building retain a fresh inside climate, despite outside temperatures of up to 40°C. The shell construction consists of self-made, sun dried mud bricks and three layers of plaster mixed with tapioca starch which improves the quailities of adhesion and water-resistancy. The amount of concrete we used for the foundations is hold down as much as possible.