A free basic education of twelve years is guaranteed by the constitution of Thailand, and a minimum of nine years’ school attendance is mandatory. Unfortunately, when you head upcountry, away from the large cities, you will see many children of school age working in the fields. There is an ageing population in the poorer provinces – along with everywhere else – people are living longer, and this puts a financial strain on many of the extended families living there. They have little choice but to send their children out into the rice fields to help with the family budget. It’s not unusual to see even 9 year old kids working in the fields, and statistics relate that 60% of children have left education by the age of 13 or 14.
Government authorities are aware of this, but seem unable to take any action. So it’s left to others to try and do what they can to help. Step in Tim Beaumont. Tim is a British chap who has made Thailand his home, and has even gone so far as to acquire Thai citizenship. From a young age Tim has always been on the move, since his parents took him to New Zealand at the age of three. He returned to the UK in his teens to complete his education, and to embark upon a career in architecture and interior design. He subsequently worked in the construction sector in Australia and Hong Kong, before landing in Thailand, in 1992, and was by that time in a position to set up his own company, The Beaumont Partnership.
He travelled extensively in Thailand, for both work and pleasure, and was well aware of the disparity in Thailand between the haves and the have-nots. On a trip back to the UK he read an article in Director magazine about Mechai Viravaidya (an elder statesman in Thai politics) and his school up in Buriram, Northeast Thailand. Tim was impressed by Khun Mechai’s deep understanding of the problems poor people faced, and that the route out of their poverty was to have access to quality education, and to make it available until at least the official school leaving age.
He talked to his shareholders, who decided to support his newly found vision of constructing and developing a school that would provide opportunity through education to the less fortunate in Thailand. Tim then sent an email to Khun Mechai, and was pleasantly surprised to receive a reply after only a day or two, and since that first contact Khun Mechai has been greatly supportive of the project. The next step Tim made was the formation of The Beaumont Partnership Foundation, a registered educational charity, followed by purchase of 130 rai (52 acres) of land in Chaiyaphum province, about four hours outside Bangkok, and thence to construction of school buildings.
The initial outlay for the venture was about 25 million Baht, which would have been rather more had the school not received a build contribution from Pace Developments, and Scott/Lamplough (a British environmental company) … as well as other materials supplied free of charge (or heavily discounted) from suppliers that Tim knew through his construction and interior design business.
These companies continue to support and sponsor the ongoing expansion of the school, its buildings, and peripheral structures such as the planned swimming pool and sports facilities. The school opened its doors in 2013 with 128 students, from Kindergarten 1, up to Grade 3 (Prathom 3), and the children who study there receive free education, in an institution that is becoming the pride of the neighbourhood.
From the beginning the essence of the teaching at Beaumont Ruam Pattana School has been to work together with the Thai government and the Ministry of Education, using their core curriculum, of which English is an important part, but to add layers to this, to adopt some measures of the Western model, be more inquiry based, to an international standard, with students encouraged to engage with their teachers, to think out of the box.
Tim is well aware that he and his partners are architects and interior designers, not teachers. He knows that the teachers are the key to his vision of creating the best possible school he can, to aid the disadvantaged families in Chaiyaphum, where he chose to place the school. He goes to great lengths to find the right staff to teach and run his school, who understand what it is he and his partners are trying to achieve.
From the initial stages the premise has been to make the Beaumont Ruam Pattana School a self-sustaining educational project. The route chosen was to focus on growing organic produce on the site, in greenhouses, that could be sold to the 5 star hotel properties and International schools. The Beaumont Partnership knows through its construction and interior design business. Also to provide training for students in the hospitality industry… Thailand is after all one of the most visited countries in the world, with 35 million international visitors arriving in 2017, a number that continues to grow.
Since the opening of the school in 2013 one grade has been added at the end of every year, so the students who reached the end of their Grade 3 studies would have moved onwards to study Grade 4, and new students would enter Kindergarten I. As the student population continues to increase, so also does the size of the school, and it needs more buildings – so it is a dynamic project, with more academic and support buildings being erected each year. In 2018 the first Mathayom classes will be taught in a newly constructed building … the student population has now reached nearly 250, and construction of boarding accommodation and new greenhouses is also in progress.
Beaumont Ruam Pattana School is a registered charity, and as it continues to increase in size more money is required to fund construction of its new buildings, and there are several ways in which it does this. Donations from sponsors are always welcome, but there are also other fundraising activities.
The pupils are assigned to a House when they join the school (London, Sydney, Bangkok, or Sao Paulo), and people are asked to sponsor a House of their choice by donating $1,000 dollars per year; there is a sponsored motorbike ride in January each year; there is a sponsored golf tournament at the Thana City golf course (which this year raised 1 million Baht); Hyatt Hotels Thailand provide generous support, and 137 Pillars recently put on an organic gourmet festival that made 300,000B, and thanks to the support of 137’s Chris Stafford this was donated to the school.
They also have a good relationship with the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, who will be donating the proceeds of their charitable activities to the school for three years, along with advice and training from some of New Zealand’s experts in the agricultural sector.The local community, as well as the parents of the pupils, are engageing well with the Beaumont Ruam Pattana School and are very happy to have neighbours that seem to understand their problems. The school is helping the local population to understand how farming organically grown produce can gain them a greater revenue than can their traditional crops of cassava or rice, which have a low profit margin. The partnership between the school and its neighbours seems destined to continue along the road to success.
If you want to know more about the school, please check out the website:
Bank Bangkok Bank Head Office
Account Name The Beaumont Partnership Foundation
Account Number 101 857 359 0
SWIFT Code BKKBTHBK