Access to education for the children of Burmese migrant workers in Southern Thailand is very difficult for a number of reasons: such as poverty, inability to speak the Thai language, fear of discrimination and a very basic educational level. Despite the governmental policy that states that all children have the right to education in Thailand, it is very difficult for Burmese children to attend school in Southern Thailand. The principal reason is that many Burmese children are unable to read or write in Thai, so they cannot keep up with the lessons at school. Another obstacle is that legal Burmese migrants are unaware of the fact their children can attend school. Thai schools also fail to reach out to Burmese communities due to the language barrier and lack of resources. In addition, migrants usually are unable to afford the school tuition fees, transportation fees, uniform costs and other continuous costs.
FED’s drive for providing an education to Burmese migrants is so that education can be used as a tool to break the cycle of poverty that afflicts these children and their parents. Most of the families of migrant children have themselves received little or no education, and as such, it is extremely difficult for them to find any work other than low paid, unskilled labor/jobs. The jobs that migrants tend to do in Thailand are referred to as the 3 D’s; Dirty, Dangerous, and Difficult. These worksites usually include rubber plantations, construction sites, fisheries and sawmills. Providing a learning space for the children not only improves their future prospects, but it also keeps them safe from harm by removing them from dangerous worksite environments. This also offers peace of mind to busy working parents.
Without education this cycle of poverty will continue. Providing Burmese migrant children with an education also means that the time at which they enter the labor force is delayed, and when they do begin to work, we hope that a good education will provide them with the skills to demand better job opportunities and a decent living wage.