A hilltribe community in Tak province is in grief following the death on Sunday of Narumon “Khru Jeab” Kaewsamrit, the only teacher at the local school, who last year received royal honours.
Narumon had for 20 years been the only teacher at the Ban Krubo Mae Fah Luang community learning centre in Umphang district.
She died at Umphang Hospital of heart failure following a long battle with a lymph-system disease. She was 53.
A bathing rite was held at Wat Panichniramol in Tak and the funeral followed on Monday evening at Wat Tabtim Daeng in Pathum Thani.
Narumon received a Khunakorn award in 2017 from the Princess Maha Chakri Award Foundation, in recognition of a teacher exemplifying the virtue of self-sacrifice.
In an interview with Kom Chad Luek Online last Thursday, Narumon said she had always focused on teaching life skills and love for the homeland, seeking to help her students become good members of society and to prod them to use their knowledge to develop their places of origin.
“Here, we don’t emphasise academic excellence, but rather being a good person, with enough knowledge to avoid falling prey to other people’s trickery,” she said.
“Teaching children is a sensitive matter. A teacher mustn’t give the kids any chance to commit wrong. If they do, it’s the teacher’s fault for not taking adequate care of them. So it’s 40 per cent teaching discipline and honesty, 30 per cent academic subjects and 30 per cent learning through playing.
“At the core of this profession is the [aspiration to become a teacher], determination, devotion and possession of good virtues and morality so that one won’t seek to profit from the students,” Narumon said.
She drew on the teachings of His Majesty King Bhumibol for inspiration as she coached 60 children every year, from kindergarten through Prathom 6.
She followed in the late monarch’s footsteps in promoting life opportunities and trying to improve the living conditions of local people in the ethnic Karen community on the edge of the Thung Yai Naresuan Forest, 90 kilometres from urban Umphang.
As a health volunteer, Narumon checked people’s blood pressure and dispensed basic medicines until a formal health station was set up several years ago.
She promoted vocational skills and helped weavers and farmers earn better prices for their products, even in getting their goods to market.
“People ask me if I feel tired, but I don’t think about tiredness – I just think that, whatever is useful, I will do it to benefit the children and the community. As His Majesty the late King taught, ‘When you are working, don’t make any shortages an excuse, but do your best with that shortage.’ This is what I’ve always maintained as my working principle.”