The Pono' (Pondok) Examinations in the Context of International Relations in the Southern Border Provinces of Thailand

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 16:15
Location: Hörsaal 30 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Fumiya ONAKA, Japan Women's University, Japan
This paper discusses examinations in traditional Islamic boarding schools (Pono’ in Patani Malay and Thai, Pondok in Standard Malay) in the southern border provinces (or the deep south) of Thailand based on participatory observation in Pattani province for six months in the 1990s. In this type of education organization, neither paper tests nor interviews for evaluations are conducted, except for elementary Jawi and Arabic; this is entirely different from Western-style schools and universities in Thailand and modern Islamic schools in Malaysia or Indonesia. For this purpose, they dwell in small cottages (They are also called Pono’) built around the house of the Babo (the most important leader of the Pono’). They study these books repeatedly for prolonged periods, and gradually begin to teach at their own dwellings according to the extent of intelligence recognized by younger students. Students who attained fame as good teachers increased their chance of being invited to dinner or to special ceremonies with the leaders. This is a long process of examination culminating in the students becoming to Ustadhs (Islamic teachers), and finally, becoming the Babo. This examination procedure is a tradition among the Pono’. However, it also results from the present international relationships between Thailand, Malaysia, Islamic powers such as Saudi Arabia, and Western powers such as the United States. This is because it is considered as being too dangerous to use any textbooks or testing papers sourced from these global or local powers for evaluating students in the midst of severest tension between them since the end of WWII. It is inevitable that these traditional styles of teaching, learning and examinations will continue. Despite the image of the Pono’ as being shelters for violent terrorist groups, the teachings as well as the students’ lives are characterized by non-violence, peace, and civilized behavior.