This month, the MAP Foundation’s Rights for All Program’s Education and Identity project made site visits to areas around Mae Sot in order to outfit MAP Scholar students with uniforms in time for going back to school. In Thailand, Thai government schools run on a calendar that marks mid- to the end of May as the beginning of the school year, and the end of the school year as the end of February to early March to avoid children being in school during the hot season. The Education and Identity project makes site visits to Mae Sot 1 to 2 times a month, but with students returning to school after their summer break, this month’s site visit focused primarily on their return. With funding from the Sievert Larsson Scholarship Foundation, the MAP Foundation is able to provide financial support to students pursuing their education in the Mae Sot and Chiang Mai areas of Thailand.
In the first week of May 2017, the Rights for All Program’s Education and Identity project held a Youth Camp in Chiang Mai for students on MAP scholarships. There were 44 Shan and Akha students who joined the activities between the ages of 12 and 17-years-old. The students represented 9 Thai government schools in areas across Northern Thailand. Youth Camp was facilitated by MAP staff from the Chiang Mai and Mae Sot offices, as well as representatives from the Internet Foundation for the Development of Thailand based in Bangkok. The 3-day event gave MAP scholars living in different areas a chance to bond with one another, learn together, and raise questions in a safe space.
In March, the Education and Identity program met with directors from 15 Thai government schools in the Mae Sot area to discuss barriers to graduating that migrant children face in Thailand. Thai government schools in the Mae Sot area frequently see migrant children pulled in and out of school because of uncontrollable factors. These uncontrollable factors range from families needing to temporarily return to Myanmar, to children needing to take up temporary jobs to support their families. These interruptions in the education of migrant children make it challenging for them to adjust to the Thai language and school system, and stay on track to graduate from primary or secondary school.
Last month MAP Education and Identity Program staff and volunteers attended a training on youth development held in Mae Sot, hosted by the Path2Health organization. The training focused on adolescents and young adults aged 10 to 25 years old. The purpose of the training was to prepare parents, teachers, and youth workers to best support this age group as they navigate the changes that characterize this stage of development. Of the 27 people who participated in the training, 9 were MAP volunteers based out of Mae Sot and 1 was a MAP staff member. MAP staff and volunteers are eager to apply what they learned to the Education and Identity Program’s trainings in migrant communities in Mae Sot.
In January, the Education & Identity program, in collaboration with other Rights for All (RFA) programs, celebrated National Children’s Day with migrant communities in both Mae Sot and Chiang Mai. MAP staff engaged youth leaders and caregivers in planning for two separate events in Phop Pra and Hao Fai, Mae Sot, as well as one event in the Chiang Mai area. The youth leaders were made up of migrant students benefiting from MAP’s scholarship program, and the caregivers included children’s parents and non-parent caregivers. These events sought to create a space where caregivers and children could enjoy one another’s company, in celebration of the bond between them—key to the healthy development of children in the community.