Governor irked at project’s price tag
An order by the Interior Ministry for provinces to hand out boy scout and girl guide uniforms to children in need should come with funds to finance the giveaway, according to Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt.
Mr Chadchart was responding to interior permanent secretary Suthipon Julacharoen’s order signed on June 22.
The order instructed provincial governors to work with local education authorities in surveying schoolchildren in need and providing them with uniforms free of charge.
Being a scout or guide is part of the curriculum for both girls and boys and uniforms are costly for many parents since they are made from a specific fabric with decorative pins and badges.
Complaints from many families over their costs have grown amid the economic hardship.
According to the permanent secretary’s order, the head of the Interior Ministry officials’ housewives association in each province would assist in the procurement of the free uniforms.
The order said if any province had limited financial resources, they should inform the ministry so that funds could be mobilised to help subsidise the uniform procurement for free distribution.
On Tuesday, Mr Chadchart said the order was meant to ease the financial burden on parents but it must not create financial constraints for City Hall.
“It’s an order and we must follow it. But if we were the party to obtain the uniforms, there should be a budget set aside for the cause as well,” the Bangkok governor said.
Mr Chadchart said he understood that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) already has funds at its disposal to buy school uniforms to be given away to children in need.
However, school uniforms are cheaper than scout or guide uniforms.
Mr Chadchart said a more important issue to consider was whether scout and guide uniforms are still relevant, as scout courses place emphasis on training children about discipline.
“If we think [the scout and guide uniforms] are expensive, we might have to ponder whether the money to buy them should perhaps be better spent on something more useful,” he said.
Meanwhile, Suthawan Suban Na Ayutthaya, a Move Forward Party MP for Nakhon Pathom, said the uniform issue has demonstrated a flaw in the state’s 15-year free education policy.
“The parents know too well that there is no such thing as a free education. There are schooling expenses here and there, and these are costs that families must shoulder,” she said.
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