News and Reviews
One of Thailand’s daily newspapers, The Nation, published a story last week about the Mechai Bamboo School, an innovative institution which is mostly run by the students. The students select the incoming applicants, hire the teachers, promote patterns of community service, and foster student enterprises. They are involved with such school business issues as purchases, procurements, and audits.
According to the article, the students do not pay any tuition. Instead, they and their parents—many of whom are local farm workers—pay by planting trees to help restore the natural environment of the community. The students and their parents also split half and half the responsibility of performing 800 hours of community service. The school is intended to serve as a model for education in Rural Thailand.
The Mechai Bamboo School, located in Buriram Province of northeastern Thailand, tries to be a lifelong learning center for all members of the community. Its curriculum includes not only the typical subjects taught to secondary level students but also practical, occupational programs such as water purification, preventive heath techniques, solar energy development, family planning, agricultural subjects, and information and communication technology.
Instruction in information technology is at the core of the curriculum. Careers in information and communications technology, people at the school believe, are the best ways to bridge the digital divide and to offer employment opportunities for rural people.
In order to achieve this aim, the Bamboo School has forged a partnership with Microsoft to provide Internet-based educational programs and to expose students to technological possibilities. Volunteers from the company instruct the teachers and students in uses of their software so they can share their work in the cloud and expand the horizons of participants beyond their rural classrooms.
The school participates in Microsoft’s Partners in Learning program, through which teachers and students are able to access resources that give them training in useful skills. Students are using the technology to help create new products. The school, and the corporation, work with an association of educational institutions in the country to spread the model widely.
The intent is for the school, partnering with Microsoft, to act as mentors to develop the uses for technology in other schools in Thailand. At this point, the Mechai Bamboo School is seeking to develop comparable technological effectiveness programs in 46 schools in the upcoming year. It has a goal of reaching 150 schools over the next three years. IKEA, the furniture conglomerate based in Sweden, and the Ikano Group, another European corporation, are providing financial support.
Kesebonye Roy spoke about San life in Molapo, a Kalahari Desert village: "If someone gets sick, we go to the grave site of that person's ancestor to ask for help.” However, another San person, Mmolawa Belesa, who lives in a resettlement camp called New Xade, located just outside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), said that he appreciates the health clinic there, where his sick father can get proper care. There are no longer any traditional healers in Molapo, while there are modern health workers in New Xade.
Last week, two South African news services published two different articles about the San people—the G/wi and the G//ana—who were removed by the Botswana government between 1997 and 2002 from their traditional homes in the desert and forcibly required to live in New Xade and two other resettlement camps.
Some San have returned to villages like Molapo in the CKGR, where they live without modern facilities such as running water, while others remain in the resettlement camps. The two reports, one from News24, the other from Independent Online, present a variety of opinions and facts about the two San societies and how the people are adjusting—or not adjusting—to life in the resettlement camp, or to subsistence back in the bush.
Both reports contrast conditions in New Xade—the reasonably modern community of 1,500 people, though beset with problems that the San are not sure how to cope with—and Molapo, the traditional village of 50 people in the bush. They both make it clear that the San people had been living in the resettlement camps for some years before the Botswana Supreme court ruled in 2006 in favor of a suit brought by the San people which allowed at least some of them to return to their ancestral desert homes. The government’s attempt to force the people to adjust to modern life was illegal, the court decided.
Molapo is one of the reestablished communities, a place to which people returned after the 2006 ruling in order to rebuild their lives without modern conveniences. Despite the hardness of life in the desert, the G/wi there have reestablished, at least to some extent, their traditional ways. The residents of Molapo are still able to gather foods in the desert—roots, herbs, and wild berries.
They are not permitted to hunt, however, because the Botswana government has forbidden hunting, at first in the CKGR but more recently throughout the nation. Molapo residents have no source of water other than what they can save from the sparse rainfall and the melons they gather in the bush or grow in their gardens.
Molapo also has a chief, a direct contradiction to their traditional egalitarian social practice, though the incumbent is not recognized as chief by everyone in the village. Molapo and the other desert renewal villages exhibit other contradictions. Jumanda Gakelebone, a noted San leader, argues that hunting by the people, now banned by the government, is an integral aspect of San life.
"The government is trying to turn us into pastoralists, which we are not. We are ecological hunter-gatherers who have a lot to teach the world about how to coexist peacefully with Mother Earth," he says. But the reporter observes that Molapo residents are already pastoralists: they live with their goats and cattle.
The ambivalence about life in Molapo is expressed by others. Xamme Gaothobogwe argues, “we want the same opportunities as everyone else.” Children must go back to one of the resettlement camps in order to attend school, a fact which Gaothobogwe deplores.
Life in New Xade is different from the bush, but it is not necessarily easy. A few San young people have been able to get educations but, according to Gakelebone, they become ashamed of their heritage. “They even change their names to appear more civilised,” he said. The bar in New Xade fills with customers every afternoon. The attendant at the bar, Kgomotsego Lobelo, says that everyone drinks because “there is nothing else to do.”
Survival International has provided documentation on over 200 cases of abuses of the San people by Botswana government agents, but one of the news reports last week published government statements relating to this issue. A government spokesman denied the allegations made by SI. He indicated that there may have been some instances of abuse, “but most such charges were false,” he stated.
Despite claims that the government has been motivated in its treatment of the minority peoples by its eagerness for royalties from diamond mining, officials deny that argument. The government spokesman said that the hunting restriction in the CKGR was imposed simply to protect the game—it had nothing to do with diamond mining or royalties. The government says that it simply wants to provide modern services to the G/wi and the G//ana people, which it can do best at the resettlement camps.
In New Xade, in addition to the heavily patronized bar and the health clinic, there are some shops and a school. But there are few jobs—most of the residents live on permanent government handouts. It is clear from the two articles that while New Xade provides some services, it also fosters a culture of dependency and cultural degeneration; while Molapo offers some freedom, dignity, and a chance to rebuild a culture of pride, at least for some of the San people, it also provides few of the benefits of modern life.
News and reviews of publications relating to peaceful societies—and sometimes to related topics—are normally posted here on Thursday mornings (U.S. time) and are kept on this page for one week. Older news and reviews for 2014 are listed below, and ones from previous years are listed on the News and Reviews 2004-2005 page, the 2006 page, the 2007 page, the 2008 page, the 2009 page, the 2010 page, the 2011 page, the 2012 page and the 2013 page. All stories are also included in the News and Reviews Subject Listing. Recent ones are listed at the bottom of each society entry in the Encyclopedia of Selected Peaceful Societies, after the heading: Updates: News and Reviews. News and reviews about peacefulness in general are referred to from the bottom of the Facts page, while news stories about this website are linked from the About This Website page. News and Reviews can also be found with the Google search bar.
December 11, 2014. A Malaysian Newspaper Revisits a Batek Village
December 11, 2014. A Malaysian Newspaper Revisits a Semai Village
December 4, 2014. Pashmina Wool in Ladakh
December 4, 2014. Pond Inlet: The Old Days Are Gone
November 27, 2014. An Overnight Visit to the Dzongu
November 27, 2014. Campfire Stories of the Ju/’hoansi [journal article review]
November 20, 2014. Tristan Islanders Remember their Forebears
November 20, 2014. The Batek Anger a Malay Politician [journal article review]
November 13, 2014. Celebrations for Fipa Babies
November 13, 2014. Botswana Persecutes the G/wi
November 6, 2014. Hutterite Children Use iPads
November 6, 2014. Domestic Violence among the Tahitians
October 30, 2014. Monsters in an Inuit Community
October 30, 2014. How the Semai Repel Cockroaches [journal article review]
October 23, 2014. Amish Volunteer Firefighters
October 23, 2014. Revitalizing Zapotec Language and Culture [journal article review]
October 16, 2014. Nubian Resettlements May Move Forward
October 16, 2014. Tristan Lobsters Accepted by the EU
October 9, 2014. Electricity in a Ladakhi Village
October 9, 2014. Gathering Non-Timber Forest Products [journal article review]
October 2, 2014. Horse Manure
October 2, 2014. Gender Inequality among the Lepchas [journal article review]
September 25, 2014. Deaths of Pregnant Fipa Women
September 25, 2014. The Ju/’hoansi Address Global Climate Change
September 18, 2014. The Fate of the Lost Franklin Expedition
September 18, 2014. The Trap of Rural Thailand [journal article review]
September 11, 2014. The Ladakh Project: An Audiovisual Mashup
September 11, 2014. The Peaceful Ju/’hoansi Mistreat their Dogs
September 4, 2014. Amish Hate Crimes Convictions Reversed
September 4, 2014. The Baybayin of the Buid
August 28, 2014. Inuit Plural Marriages
August 28, 2014. Zapotec Women Push Changes [online magazine article review]
August 21, 2014. Violence in a Yanadi Community
August 21, 2014. Frog Woman and Her Moral Code [anthology chapter review]
August 14, 2014. San Hunters Versus Botswana
August 14, 2014. Conflict Resolution and Gender Equality in Lepcha Society [book review]
August 7, 2014. Amish Self Concepts—Prisoners Relate their Experiences
August 7, 2014. Inuit Self Concepts—Are They Satisfied with Life? [journal article review]
July 31, 2014. Conviction for Corruption Upheld against Flosse
July 31, 2014. Uses and Customs in Oaxaca [online magazine article review]
July 24, 2014. Schooling for the Semai
July 24, 2014. Political, Religious, and Community Tensions in Ladakh [journal article review]
July 17, 2014. Rural Thai Children Threatened by Absence of Parents
July 17, 2014. Official Concern for Birhor Wanes
July 10, 2014. Police Remove Yanadi before Modi Visit
July 10, 2014. Children Learn to Be Peaceful the Batek Way [anthology chapter review]
July 3, 2014. Amish Volunteerism
July 3, 2014. Birthday Wishes for Glenn Paige
June 26, 2014. Atlas of Inuit Trails
June 26, 2014. The Challenges of Lepcha Identity [journal article review]
June 19, 2014. Nubians Waiting for Fair Treatment
June 19, 2014. Homeless Fipa Children
June 12, 2014. Huarime Festival in a Piaroa Community
June 12, 2014. Soups and Such from Hutterite Kitchens
June 5, 2014. Zapotec Affected by Wind Project
June 5, 2014. Reports of Violence in Thai High Schools [journal article review]
May 29, 2014. The Birhor and the Bees
May 29, 2014. Traditional Ways on Huahine
May 22, 2014. Lancaster County Amish Consider Leaving
May 22, 2014. Rat Hunting Holiday on Tristan
May 15, 2014. Ladakh Makes the Effort to Vote
May 15, 2014. A Visitor on Ifaluk
May 8, 2014. Yanadi Abandon Traditions, Modernize
May 8, 2014. Inuit Sale of Game Meat Questioned—and Defended
May 1, 2014. Paliyans Proud to Vote
May 1, 2014. A San Complains about Rotten Treatment
April 24, 2014. Birhor Boycott National Elections
April 24, 2014. Kadar Boycott National Elections
April 17, 2014. Hutterite Colony in Japan
April 17, 2014. Raging Violence, Nubians Versus Arabs
April 10, 2014. Paliyans Exploited in Tamil Nadu
April 10, 2014. Storytelling Preserves Traditions of the Lepchas
March 27, 2014. Presentation on Tristan Coming to Toronto Area Library
March 27, 2014. Philippine Conference Promotes Indigenous Languages
March 20, 2014. Proposed Port Threatens Yanadi Villages
March 20, 2014. A Jewish Scholar Visits an Amish Family
March 13, 2014. Seminar Presentation on Rural Thai Culture
March 13, 2014. Ladakh Political Status Challenged
March 6, 2014. Inuit Languages Celebrated
March 6, 2014. Rules for Maintaining a Peaceful Society [journal article review]
February 27, 2014. Zapotec Linguistics Analysis
February 27, 2014. Schooling for the Lepchas
February 20, 2014. Endangered Species and the San
February 20, 2014. Drive-by Horse Shooting
February 13, 2014. Nubians Recognized in Egyptian Constitution
February 13, 2014. Inuit Sex Trafficking
February 6, 2014. The Semai of Pos Betau
February 6, 2014. New Dictionary for Ju/’hoansi Children
January 30, 2014. Preserving Lepcha Culture
January 30, 2014. Rural Thai Culture of Rice Farming
January 23, 2014. Hutterite Colony School Burns Down
January 23, 2014. Batek Suffering from Logging
January 16, 2014. The Tamaraw and the Buid
January 16, 2014. G/wi are Being “Treated Like Dogs”
January 9, 2014. Central California Zapotec Festival
January 9, 2014. Birhor Poverty Finds Relief in a Picnic
January 2, 2014. A Semai Christmas
January 2, 2014. Nubian Recognition in New Egyptian Constitution