Scores of  pupils look for vacant seats as school president Baba Hadji Hussein finishes his nightly sermon Ponoh Dala in southern Thailand. More than 900 students live at this Islamic school for up to eight years where they spend six days each week studying the Qu'ran and learning about Islamic jurisprudence.  Ponoh Dala was established 100 years ago as a private, family-owned institution.  To this day, it is still recognized as one of the leading Islamic educational centers in Southeast Asia.  This ponoh (pondok in Malay) is one of 400 traditional Islamic schools in Thailand and contrasts greatly with the less popular government schools, many of which periodically shut down due to an increase of arson attacks against state-owned buildings.  Southern Thailand has been ravaged by an insurgency in which more than 3000 people have been killed since 2004. 

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