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Developing Agriculture and Education for Tribal Populations

Ashoka Fellow, Bangkok, Thailand

Tuenjai’s secondary objective is to improve education among tribal populations. She has helped 70% of the children in the villages where she's working learn basic Thai and created a curriculum teaching students about their environment. Her educational program provides a platform for children entering government schools. Tuenjai's village schools also offer evening classes for adults, introducing them to the Thai language and teaching them how to access Government services.Tuenjai Deetes targets two of the most pressing problems facing tribal populations in Northern Thailand: unsustainable agriculture and poor education. As hill tribes endeavor to cultivate cash crops and grow their incomes, they resort to a slash and burn farming technique, where vegetation is destroyed in order to fertilize soil. This practice erodes land, perpetuating the cycle of unsustainable agriculture. Tuenjai and her organization, Hill Area Development Foundation, are pressing tribes to adopt valley contour cropping on their hillside fields, regular crop rotation, and techniques to alow absorption during rains.

Tuenjai's work has attracted the positive attention of the Thai media and Government and is called upon to serve as advisor providing counsel. Tuenjai is forging a new path for tribes in Thailand with growth and citizenship on the horizon.

Speech Topics:

  • Tribal Populations
  • Environmental Awareness
  • Civic Engagement
This article was originally published on May 13, 2016
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