Books Before Baht: The Soi 8 School That Knocked Back A Billion

Published on 28th January 2016 by Stickboy BKK

Wannawit School Bangkok

Wannawit School was opened shortly after World War II ended by the mother of the current owner and principal, 96-year-old Mom Rajawongse Ruchisamara Suksawadi.

The two-storey wooden school built in 1946 remains unchanged to this day despite being located near some of Bangkok’s most popular tourist and shopping areas.

Wannawit School Bangkok

A short walk down Soi 8 from Sukhumvit Road, the school is easy to miss unless you look for it carefully as it is surrounded by high-rise condominiums, hotels, expat pubs and restaurants.

Once through the small entrance you stand in an open space outside the L-shaped school that is used for P.E. classes.

Wannawit School Bangkok

Ms Ruchisamara took over running the school in 1954 and has carried on her mothers principals of providing affordable education for poor local children in the area ever since.

There are now 500 students and 37 teachers at the school.

Wannawit School Bangkok

The school is accredited by the Ministry of Education, however, it survives entirely on its own budget instead of government funding.

Primary school children are charged 1,700 baht per term and 1,300 baht for those at secondary level.

Wannawit School Bangkok

Property developers see the three-rai plot of land as a gold mine, given its prime location but Ms Ruchisamara has fought off pressure to sell up having turned down large sums of money, including a 100 billion baht offer.

Despite the school struggling to cover its running costs, Ms Ruchisamara refuses to bow down to pressure from developers and even declines donations.

Wannawit School Bangkok

Heralded now as a school that honours teaching and children’s futures above money, it has become famous among Thais for its refusal to bow down to commercial development.

Many of its teachers are former students wanting to give back to the school that gave them hope and education.

Wannawit School Bangkok

Wannawit School Bangkok

Wannawit School Bangkok

Wannawit School Bangkok

Photo Credits: EPA / BARBARA WALTON / Bangkok Post

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