The violence in South Thailand began in 2004 and has showed little signs of subsiding. In an effort to reverse the trend, The Southern Border Province Administration Centre (SBPAC) and Mahidol University established a peace training programme in 2007. The three-month course would train 125 local officials in South Thailand in peacebuilding techniques. In 2008, SBPAC and Mahidol University took 69 of the participants to become ‘Peace Volunteers’ to put what they had learned into practice in their local areas.
The peace volunteers are local people, who live and work in the areas affected by the violence. Around 60 per cent are teachers – others come are deputy district officers, or come from community development authorities. Because they are from the area they know the culture, religion and nature of the people, better than any outsider. The training they have received has allowed them to build upon this local knowledge, using it alongside peacebuilding skills.
By 2010, these 69 volunteers will have established a peacebuilding project that extends in to high schools and villages (particularly villages that are experiencing religious-based conflict).