The idea to found the School for Life in Chiang Mai came from Khun Thaneen “Joy” Worrawittayakun and Prof. Dr. Jürgen Zimmer.
The project planning in Chiang Mai was based on a nationwide study “The Development of Entrepreneurial Schools in Thailand” conducted in 2001 under the direction of Prof. Dr. Apichai Puntasen (Dean of the Faculty of Management Science at Ubon Ratchathanee University until the end of 2008) and Prof. Zimmer. The results were published and recommended for implementation by the Ministry for Education.
The founding of the School for Life was preceded by a two-year pilot phase with research in the catchment area and discussions with representatives of communities, ethnic groups, non-governmental organisations, school and social authorities.
By participating in community development during the pilot phase, a relationship of trust was established between the project planners and the population of the surrounding communities. There was particularly close cooperation with the village of Pongkum, whose mayors and school principals sent the first AIDS orphans. As the trustworthiness of the School for Life spread, the catchment area from which the children were brought grew considerably. It now extends as far as the Myanmar border. Many children found their own way to the School for Life.
The School for Life was founded in 2003 as ‘Home School’. Since May 2006 it has been officially recognised as a ‘Private Social Welfare School’. It includes a kindergarten, a primary school (1-6) and a junior high school (7-9). A Senior High School is to be opened when the funds are available.
The School for Life creates jobs for people from the surrounding area, for farm and construction work as well as for child care. Community Education involves adults in projects that address key local issues such as recycling or organic farming. In October 2005 the Thai Crown Princess HRH Maha Chakri Sirindhorn visited the School for Life. Since then, the already positive relations with the Ministry of Education and the provincial government have intensified.