Studies, Reviews and Research

Educating Burmese Children in Thailand

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Save the Children International

Migrants from Myanmar have been present in Thailand in large numbers for many years due to the long-term conflict, poor economy and lack of educational opportunities and jobs in the country. As a result, approximately 2.5 million migrants from Myanmar live in Thailand. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that nearly 400,000 migrant children live in Thailand, approximately 11 percent of all migrants, although due to their illegal status and lack of registration the actual number may be much higher. In order to provide an education for their children, migrant communities have set up Migrant Learning Centers (MLCs), also known simply as Learning Centers (LCs) run by local educators, volunteers and community based organizations. However these MLCs and LCs are not accredited, monitored, or supported by any formal education authority and as a result students receive little or no formal recognition of learning. MLCs and LCs are also facing a funding crisis as many donors shift their funding priorities across the border in Myanmar. Despite these challenges, education provided in these centers is widely seen to be beneficial to students and communities, as it provides students with an opportunity to learn in their mother-tongue language. For families who plan to return to Myanmar in the future, education that includes Burmese or ethnic language, history and culture is therefore seen as advantageous for the future of their children.

Due to the complexity of the situation, there is a need to review the current needs and educational pathways that are available to migrant students, with a particular emphasis on the accessibility, sustainability, accreditation status, and quality of these options. World Education and Save the Children have therefore conducted research on the migrant education sector in Bangkok and Mae Sot.

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