Swedish School Opens In Phuket For Holiday Kids

Phuket WiNFY School is a new international school in Kamala following the Swedish curriculum and started by a Swedish family in 2005. The school’s name comes from a charity called “Will Never Forget You” established in the wake of the 2004 Tsunami disaster.
The new Swedish school offers Swedish families who want to come to Thailand to take time out from their lives back home in Sweden a Swedish alternative to the local international schools in Phuket. The monthly school fee is only 8,000 Thai Baht.
A new school building is currently under construction ahead of the next school year in June, with a capacity for 30 children, and the initiators are seeing a strong interest from Swedes – some who are soon to become island residents.
When the family of Maria Kiesbye Scholtyssek and David Scholtyssek moved to Thailand two years ago, they could probably not foresee what ball they were about to set rolling – and, perhaps, can still not see what things will lead to.

It all started…
It all started with Maria and David moving with their three daughters to Thailand after having spent a whole summer of nine weeks on Phuket in 2003.
When they came back to Sweden they started reflecting and could envision how they would be able to improve their life quality in Asia.
“Coming back you really started thinking about what is worth something in your life. There we were sitting with three children, and it was like: you are working all the time. You did not see them,” explains Maria. David had also suffered from an illness a few years back leading them to reflect more about life.
Maria and David looked into what they could do in Thailand, but basically decided to cut the lifeline to Sweden by selling all their belongings and move without a clear plan. They had some ideas but would go with the flow and take things as they come. They had already built a house so they had a place to stay in.
They had contacted the Koh Lanta school and took their advice on bringing a private teacher along.
The tsunami tragedy soon followed which was to play a role for some coincidental events thereafter.

The charity work
The charity organisation WiNFY, which has given its name to the school, is an ongoing project raising funds for children affected by the Tsunami.  WiNFY sells Teddy Bears and T-shirts with all the proceedings going to the children’s necessities and school costs and donors can become sponsors for a particular child.
Coinciding with starting this charity Maria and David contacted her home municipality in Sweden, Håbo, which in the most beneficial way lead not only to significant support by its local Swedes for WiNFY, but also to a very suitable education solution for their children as well as other Swedes’ in Thailand – the modern concept School 2000.
Håbo is one of the municipalities that have fully adopted this development project within education for primary and secondary schools, where there are no real classes and where different age groups learn together; which matches well with the conditions on Phuket with a mix of ages and but not enough pupils to have a teacher for each level.
Birgitta Green, a local politician and one of the individuals that assisted in raising funds for WiNFY, came down to visit in 2005 and they began talking about starting a Swedish school. Maria and David had looked around and were contemplating to start one as they found the choices to be limited and as they knew there were many Swedes who wanted to come for longer or shorter periods.
Then Maria and David went to visit Håbo and its municipality decided to support teachers applying for a Free Year, a labour-market policy initiative in Sweden, in order for those to go and work as volunteers in Thailand.

“School 2000” concept
School 2000 follows the objectives specified by the Swedish Board of Education but with the starting point that all children are different and must be given the opportunity to develop in their own pace. A new role is given for the students working in units, and for the teachers in teams.
 “The idea is that the students in the forefront can work more alone while those in need of a lot of support can get more help,” says Birgitta.
 The Phuket WiNFY School (PWS) enables children to study there full time but also gives support to families with children staying for a few weeks or more.
 “All teachers from Håbo have the 2000 pedagogic and can handle children who are at different levels and courses,” explains Birgitta. When she advertised within the municipality for teachers the interest was huge so it seems
many would like to take the opportunity.

Cheap school vacation
Taking leave for more than ten days for a Swedish school child is normally not permitted, but now there is a solution for those who want to visit Thailand during the terms.
“PWS is there for you who want longer periods. There is not objection any longer,” says David.
“Now that there is a Swedish school available the headmaster has no reason to say no,” says Maria, adding that the school is available for everyone.
Full time pupils must also learn Thai and for those in school year seven to nine can also register for distance teaching at Sofia Distans, if they feel they need it for safety. Then the PWS teachers would only function as instructors and the parents would be responsible.
If a student stays more than 16 weeks, the monthly school fee is TH B 8,000 and THB 4,000 for the term. For shorter periods there will only be a monthly slightly higher fee.
A branch for maximum 20 pupils is also being planned for the Scandinavian Laguna property development that is under construction in Chalong.

About Joakim Persson

Freelance business and lifestyle photojournalist

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