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.
School directors described the value of receiving volunteer and financial support from various organizations, such as MAP Education and Identity program scholarships which fund the educational costs of individual migrant students. Thai government schools receive their funding according to the number of Thai students they have, leaving migrant children unaccounted for. For this reason, MAP scholarships are critical to keeping migrant children in school—with 475 current migrant youth scholars. Due to limited funding, however, these scholarships only cover 1 to 3 years of a migrant child’s education. Both MAP staff and the 15 Thai government school directors are eager to secure additional funding to ensure migrant students are financially covered throughout the entirety of their education.
The financial assistance required to support migrant students in Thai government schools extends to basic medical care costs and nutritious lunches. Migrant students lack access to health care and often show up to school undernourished, making schools spaces where these issues could be addressed on a daily basis. A follow up meeting to further examine these areas for growth will hopefully be attended by agents working at Migrant Learning Centers (MLCs), hospital employees, Thai Border Patrol agents, and members of the Thai Education Department. MAP staff and the 15 Thai government school directors will continue their collaboration in order to achieve holistic approaches to supporting migrant children in Mae Sot schools.