Thailand PM Backs Islam in State Schools

January 27, 2007

Source: Garowe Online

Prime minister Surayud Chulanont on Saturday called for Islamic religious instruction at all public schools in the majority-Muslim South.

The measure is a bid to restore peace to a region where some 2,000 people have died over the past three years.

Gen Surayud, on his third visit to Narathitwat, Pattani and Yala since becoming premier, suggested seeking neighbouring Malaysia's help in setting up a suitable curriculum for primary through university schools in the region to meet the population's educational needs.

"I've assigned the Foreign Ministry to coordinate with the Malaysian government and to study what educational syllabus is needed to be improved for primary education," Surayud told state-run Thai News Agency (TNA).

The government was considering recruiting graduates in Islam to help teach in Thailand's state-run schools in the region, he added.

Thailand's south was known as the independent Islamic sultanate of Pattani before it was absorbed into what then was Siam about 100 years ago. A majority of the people in the three provinces are Muslim and speak Yawi, a dialect similar to Malay.