Library for New Generation School

New Generation School is one of few Karen leadership programs possible in the border area. It used to be situated further north along Salween River, but was moved to our area some years ago. The library is built in cooperation with the school and Karen Education department (KED)

Background

The current facilities are all built by the students and their teachers and are mainly built using materials from the local jungle area and some plastic tarps. It works, but for books, the humid climate is a challenge and we were happy to accept the request to design and build a library for this school.

The students at New Generation Leadership School have all finished some kind of previous education, like high school or occupational training, but like most Karen along the border, they have attended either Thai school, or a school in one of the refugee camps run by international NGOs. Some also come from inside Burma and have attended Burmese schools. That few people have actually attended a Karen school and learned history and political view from their own point of view is in general a challenge. What is actually thought of history and politics, also in the Karen schools, are also limited and coloured by the situation. Centuries with civil war where any resistance has been heavily beaten down on, and the southeast Asian mentality of not loosing face/ asking question to anyone of higher rank, is not a fruitful environment for political thought. Little of the history is also written down, and since a high percentage of the population are illiterate, it would not have made an impact for daily life today, but it will be advantageous for future generations.

Today Karen history lives through songs, stories and legends. Besides of valid complaints about regular village attacks by the Burmese army and occasional imprisonment by Thai police or army, politics is not a popular topic. In the rural area, politics in a bigger perspective is rarely mentioned. Supernatural belief and gossip is to a big extent what keep these communities together and that does not bring a lot of knowledge of what is going on in their own country, or in the rest of the world into the local sphere.

Therefore, the New Generations school is a most welcome initiative. Not only does it educate future Karen leaders and create a fellowship among them that will be useful in their careers, it also accepts equal parts boys and girls promoting gender equality in this area. It is lead by Karen National Union, the local political faction, and run by donations and extra volunteer work by teachers from the out-side.

Details

Built and designed by Gyaw Gyaw 2016

Total 12 weeks/199 767 Baht

Gyaw Gyaw Team: Line Ramstad (project manager/architect) Phillipa, Pah Me, See Da Pah, Ste Pha, Kee Kee pah, P´Enge. Paw Eh Wah, Saw Dee, Ole (adm).

Special thanks to Thara Lay Taw and KED for good cooperations.

Photo: Line Ramstad

Process

The Library for New Generation Leadership School in Thi Bu Tha was started in the end of hot season 2016. 

With a permanent team and continuous workflow, part of Gyaw Gyaw`s challenge is to adjust our buildings to the time they are built. All our projects are of course based on function and adapted to their users for all seasons, but to be able to work during rainy season, we need to design and build buildings that can be constructed during heavy rain. 

The first meetings with the school was held in March 2016, and the project itself started in May the same year. Rainy season is normally from the end of May to October.

Since school is partly closed during this time, the students did not get as involved as we had hoped for. We did in stead concentrate on timber works and details and used this project to improve our knowledge and fine-tune our skills.

Library for New Generation Leadership School

The library is constructed as a traditional Karen house, but with extra focus on details in the timber-works.

First floor is designed to make protected pockets for books where temperature and humidity will be as stable as possible. To allow for light and airflow into the room, the additional walls are timber that was manually cut in slats and evenly placed with gaps. This is repeated in second floor that is accommodation for the teacher. Outside of the teachers room it is a roof-covered veranda.

First floor also has a reading place both inside and outside of the closed library room for students to study.

Pictures

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