SIX Thai primary school pupils were in town yesterday, as part of a youth group that was making its first-ever overseas study trip to Singapore.
The six pupils, aged between 10 and 12, are members of Thailand's Young Ambassadors of Virtue Foundation, a group that aims to promote national unity, character development and volunteerism in the country's youth.
Yesterday, they and their teachers, accompanied by staff from the foundation, were hosted by Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs at a tea reception at its headquarters in Tanglin Road.
The pupils, who will be in Singapore for four days, will be visiting schools, the National Museum, the Singapore Science Centre and the National Library.
The Foundation, whose patron is Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, was set up by the Thai Foreign Ministry. It organises student and teacher exchanges between some 2,500 schools within Thailand, as well as various youth activities.
Its co-founder Don Pramudwinai told The Straits Times that the group had chosen to make its first overseas study trip to Singapore because of its economic and educational success.
'This is such a resourceful country,' he said. 'Why should we go anywhere else?'
The former Thai ambassador to the US also said that he was looking at making the visit an annual affair.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, who hosted the pupils yesterday, said the visit reflected the relations between Singapore and Thailand. He noted that the two nations have exchange programmes such as a school twinning scheme that pairs 10 Singapore schools with Thai counterparts. Some 1,000 students and teachers have visited Thailand under this programme
One of the pupils, Saowapaporn Chaiprasit, 11, said she was looking forward to visiting Singapore's National Library.
'I want to learn how Singapore and Thailand are different,' she said.