After 75 years, Wannawit School has closed its doors. The move was not unexpected. The school had been struggling financially for the past three years, with declining enrolments.
Wannawit School was the only connection that links past and present in the area. The wooden school was built after World War II in 1946 and remains unchanged to this day.
Opened on June 20, 1946, Wannawit School offered educational opportunities for children of low-income families in Bangkok. It stands on three rai of land on Sukhumvit Road, near Soi Nana – now one of the city’s red-light districts.
Sukhumvit Soi 8 is located near one of Bangkok’s busiest tourist hubs and notorious red-light districts: Soi Nana. As such, the street has become home to many hotels, restaurants, and massage parlors.
Its gateway is tiny compared to the 30-story building that stands next door. But the small metal fence is flung wide open, and a wooden sign for the school sits on top.
At first glance, it almost looks as though the school entrance has been built onto someone’s private house.
The school building may be nearly 70 years old but is still in good condition. The floors are clean and shiny and the wood looks well cared for. None of the classrooms has an air-conditioner, but a natural breeze flows throughout the building.
Other schools in Bangkok switched to using electric bells long ago. But Wannawit School still uses a rather more manual way of sounding the bell: a rope. A lady calmly walks over and pulls the rope at the end of each lesson, notifying pupils that class is over.
Students, teachers, and alumni all expressed their sorrow and disappointment at the closure. A farewell reception was held on Feb 26, 2022.