Society in the southern-border provinces is multicultural consisting of Thai, Chinese and Malay people, and they live and depend with each other all along. These differences bring good things to happen. Thai, Chinese or Malay languages are equally important in driving the development of tourism and commercial businesses to grow. Chinese is familiar in the multicultural society in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat. For years, Mandarin Chinese has been increasingly popular because it plays an important role in Thai labor markets at all levels in terms of trading, tourism industry, joint venture of Thai, Chinese and Singaporean businessmen with higher ratio of transactions. As a result, more personnel who have Mandarin Chinese proficiency are needed, and learning the language skills is extremely important.
In Mueang District, Pattani Province, there is a school teaching Chinese from the beginning and having produced students with Chinese skill for 101 years, which is Chonghua School. Established in 1918, it had about 60 students at that time and taught only Chinese language. In 1945 after the World War II, the school improved its business by providing education according to the regulations of the Ministry of Education. It started providing education for grade-1 to grade-4 students for Chinese descendants settling in Pattani to learn Thai and Chinese and to inherit Thai-Chinese cultures to remain forever, and not to leave their roots behind. In the past, the students attending Chinghua School were descendants of Chinese merchants in Pattani. At present, these students become important personnel in Pattani, and most businessmen in Pattani in this generation were student of Chinghua School.
Until now, Chonghua School is aged for 101 years, and it has developed its instructions all along. At present, it provides education for preschool to grade-6 students with 714 students including Thai and Chinese-Thai student for 80% and Thai Muslim students for 20%. It is outstanding compared to other schools as it provides instructions focused on Chinese. There are 5 Chinese teachers, and they teach Chinese for primary students 5 times a week while teaching Chinese for preschool students twice a week. It is to implant foundation for the children to be familiar with Chinese.
The school and its classrooms have environment suitable for Chinese learning in every area. It also has activities for reading, writing speaking skill development for students to have conversation in Chines and learn all the time. Outside the school, the connection and network is constituted among Chinese schools in and out of the country. Furthermore, there are activities to extend Chinese skill development regularly by setting up a stage where the students can show their Chinese proficiency and use skills they learn to show to friends and teachers. It is also a way to practice assertiveness.
The advantages of having students with various cultures and languages are that using Malay language of Thai Muslim students contributes to Chinese learning because the teachers confirm that pronunciation and mouth shapes of Thai Muslim students when speaking Chinese are similar to Chinese accent of the native speakers. Therefore, most Muslim students have good Chinese skill that they represent the school in joining language skill contests at district level.
The students of Chonghua School, after graduation, mostly can communicate Chinese at good level, and it is the skill that the children have until they become adults and they can further use in their education and routine life as well as careers in the future. Learning Chinese is hence advantageous as it can be used for further studying, economy, and politics. In the age that Thailand is becoming a part of ASEAN Economic Community and in the society where diversity is accepted, learning languages to understand coexistence is essential because every language is unique and different but coming out right. If one thing is missing, the multicultural society will be imbalanced.