Provide Education for 470 Burmese Migrant Children

by Foundation for Education and Development (GHRE)
Vetted
Children at Unified Learning Center
Children at Unified Learning Center

Dear Friends,

With reforms underway in Burma support of migrant children’s education in Thailand is increasingly important 
Reform is underway in Burma and Thailand’s Foundation for Education and Development (FED) has often been asked about any significant return migrations of Burmese migrants. However, with regards to Phang Nga Province, there have been no significant or permanent trends indicating returns of Burmese migrant workers to Burma because of Thein Sein’s reforms. Such are the reforms’ influence upon humanitarian aid, as well as political and economic interests around the world, that the FED must reiterate why our education work for migrants is still so important even though we work outside Burma’s political boundaries. 
Economically, the demand for Burmese labor in Thailand remains high while job opportunities and wages in Burma remain low. Tens of millions of Burmese will continue to migrate; flowing back and forth across borders. Even as Burma develops economically, migrants outside of Burma will continue to be among the poorest and most vulnerable. Any approach to education and development of the Burmese people needs to recognize and act upon these realities and include migration and migrant children in the picture. The aid world must look at the long-term and bigger picture. We must not exclude, delegitimize, dehumanize and alienate migrants to the hidden, silent places of suffering from which we have struggled so hard to liberate them in Thailand. 
NGOs and other agencies or private entities wanting to fund learning or education of children and youth in Burma should not exclude migration from their interventions. Funders such as NGOs and governments now pass up needy migrant children in Thailand because they can now legally operate with Burmese children in Burma. This is a narrow and short-sighted approach that would be unacceptable to Burmese as their national consciousness and awareness of their human rights develops along with its economy. Funding migrant children outside of Burma will accelerate Burma’s regional importance regarding human rights. As Burma develops democratically and economically, the nation will be looking more and more outside its own borders at its people, influence and rights abroad. There is a real reason why Aung San Suu Kyi’s first visit outside of Burma in decades was to visit migrant workers in Thailand during the World Economic Forum in May. 
The existence of Burmese institutions abroad, such as the FED and its Learning Centres, will increase in importance. The Burmese peoples’ consciousness of their own rights expands and they come to expect more from nations that have customarily exploited their poorest and least educated. The Burmese people themselves will be expecting better treatment of their daughters and sons abroad while they have increasingly recognized the importance of Learning Centers for their children as well as other critical services like health care access and health education.
FED’s chairman, Kraisak Choonhavan, a leading human rights advocate and politician in Thailand, once said his role within in the foundation can be likened to a benevolent “spectre” on watch within the consciences of would-be human rights violators. In a similar way, FED’s Learning Centres and education projects are little strongholds or embassies for Burmese children’s rights in S. Thailand. The Learning Centres’ presence in the community has symbolic importance with powerful human rights implications. All along, the presence of our Learning Centers has exacted greater integrity for and humanization of the Burmese people in Thailand by putting children first. The rights of the downtrodden have never been awarded; they have been won through the demands of the oppressed. The LCs have been the absolute at the heart of this declaration of dignity; the children and extremely dedicated teachers, its ambassadors. As such, the support of just a few hundred Burmese migrant children has social repercussions that far exceed conventional education outputs.
In supporting the FED’s education work in Thailand, an agency or individual promotes safety and health for Burma’s most vulnerable people; its migrant children. Not only do the Learning Centres offer regular health education for children who otherwise wouldn’t get it, but the FED also facilitates these children’ access to health care when they are ill or injured. Reaching these isolated people is possible only by bringing them together at the Learning Centres. The LCs have been a powerful antidote to the heartbreak of child labour, indentured servitude, modern forms of slavery and other abuses, which were completely unchecked here in Phang Nga Province before Burmese children had a safe place to be. Diverse accounts attest that child labour and exploitation has decreased and been less passively accepted as the status quo by Thai communities here.
The LCs are an advocate and promoter of education reform in Thailand. It was no mystery why Thai govt. schools in the area began finally accepting migrant children only after our learning centers paved the way; showing that the will and unity of the Burmese community was strong and organized. It was the presence of the LCs full of children demanding their rights! Now, more than ever, the education of Burmese migrant children has repercussions for the entire region and our collective humanity.  
With this being said, we would like to extend our sincerest gratitude and appreciation to all of you, who have generously contributed to our education program.  We, as well as the Burmese children recipients of these fundamental gifts, are immensely thankful for the contributions you have made to this cause.  While education, especially for youth, is of the utmost importance and beyond the confines of a price or monetary value, these are projects that FED will continue to provide thanks to the community of support we are fortunate enough to have made with you.  As we maintain communication with our valued supporters, please do continue to look out for ways you can support the Burmese migrant community through the work that FED is doing and through our future Global Giving campaigns.  Thank you again for your support and compassion. 

Classroom
Classroom
Lunch Break
Lunch Break
Art Class
Art Class
ULC
ULC

Dear Supporters,

On behalf of FED and the local Burmese migrant community, we would like to extend our sincerest gratitude and appreciation to those who have generously contributed to the Global Giving project aimed at providing education for Burmese children.  We, as well as the Burmese children recipients of these fundamental gifts, are immensely thankful for the responses, the support, and the time you have given in pursuit of this cause.  While education, especially for youth, is of the utmost importance and beyond the confines of a price or monetary value, these are projects that FED will continue to provide thanks to the community of support we are fortunate enough to have made with you.  As we maintain communication with our valued supporters, please do continue to look out for ways you can support the Burmese migrant community through the work that FED is doing and through our future Global Giving campaigns.  Thank you again for your support and compassion.  

Since our Learning Centers reopened both students and teachers alike have been busy bees, keeping themselves thoroughly occupied and entertained with a number of extra curricular activities. Here are a couple....

Currently in Unified Learning Center, we teach Burmese, English, Thai, Mathematics, Social Studies (history, Science, Geography) and Art for Burmese migrant students.  We started the second chapter end test from 8th to 12th (Myanmar, Thai, English, Math, and Integrated) of October for 2012-2013 Academic Years.

The Nutrition program has been operating in the nursery to enrich the health and nutrition of the children.

The health education activities have been provided two days per month in the unified learning center for hygiene, self health guidance, and to educate on general knowledge about good health.

This period, one English speaking volunteer has been supporting English in Grade 4 to Grade 7 with pronunciation, phonetics, and conversation.  In addition we have started the computer class for Grades 3 to 7 with the introduction of the computer to the Burmese migrant students. This is the first exposure to computers for most students except the chapter end test from October 8th to 12th. We taught a computer basics course, the typing method and plan to teach painting for the new students. For Grade 7, we taught the practical use of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe PageMaker, Adobe Photoshop CS2, basic internet and web development class.

Burmese language lessons for integration students began to support the development of the native language of Burmese children attending Thai schools, a Burmese teaching program has begun to be implemented. Burmese children studying at Parkweek and Khuk Khak Thai Schools have Burmese language class every Saturday at The Unified Learning Center.

Extraordinary activities:

  • We celebrated the 67th Birthday of Aung San Su Kyi at unified learning center on 19th June with students, staff, Teachers and volunteers. On that day, the Education coordinator/ headmaster gave a speech about National League for Democracy leader and explained about the Noble Peace Prize, the sacrifice she has made for the Burmese people for human rights. Po Po explained about the biography of Aung San Su Kyi. After that we showed a short video about Aung San Suu Kyi delivering her Nobel Lecture on the 16th of June, 2012 in, Norway. Then, we also conducted questions and answers among the students about the Aung San Su Kyi biography and Noble Peace Prize.
  • On July 18th, The Foundation for Education and Development (FED) hosted a signature cultural event at Unified Learning Center. Dr. Ashin Nyanissara gave the five precepts and preach for us on that day. After that we donated the food for lunch to the monks. The venerable Dr. Ashin Nyanissara, one of Burma’s most respected senior abbots, spoke to nearly one thousand people (including students) from migrant communities about respect for tradition, culture and Thai laws. Also known as Sitagu Sayadaw, the venerated monk said, “All migrants living and working in Thailand must respect the laws, rules and regulations of the Thai Royal government.  We strive to live in harmony, regardless of our different nationalities or religious beliefs.”
  • We celebrated the 65th Anniversary of Burma’s Martyr Day at unified learning center on 19th July with students and Teachers. On that day, the Education coordinator/headmaster gave a speech about several of Burma’s independence leaders were gunned down by a group of armed men in uniform while they were holding a cabinet meeting at the Ministers’ Building/Secretariat in downtown Yangon. The assassinations were planned by a rival political group, and the leader and alleged master-mind of that group Galon U Saw. Ms Sein Aye explained about the biography of General Aung San. Then, we also conducted questions and answers among the students about the Burma’s Martyr Day and their history. 
  • August 12th is a very special day for the people of Thailand, as it is the birthday of their beloved queen, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. In commemoration of Her Majesty, this day is also recognized as National Mother's Day. Her Majesty, together His Royal Highness King Bhumibol Adulyadej, command the love, reverence and loyal among all Thai people. On that day, we also invited the student’s parents (only mother) to celebrate the Mother’s Day at the Unified Learning Center with the students. Our students make merit in the morning and then they sing the songs in praise of her. 
  • On August 25th, we had meetings with students’ parents to talk about their children’s learning situation. According the parents meeting, to improve their children’s education for the long term, funding is needed by the help of students’ parents. The teachers and education staff shared education-related information for 2012-2013 Academic Years. On that day, we established a teacher parents association for the 2012-2013 Academic Year.  
  • On October 16th to 19th, 20 student’s and 3 teachers from the American school of The Hague visited Youth Outreach and Kuraburi Nursery for one week. They did learning and cultural activities and shared their experiences with youth outreach students at Unified Learning Center. They also did activities with nursery students and gave clothing for nursery. On October 18th, they divided into four groups and visited to the Youth Outreach student home in the afternoon because they wanted to know how Burmese migrants status in their work site.  
  • The Education department organized teacher training from 17th to 22nd October for all teachers at unified learning center. At this training we discussed child-centered teaching methods, teachers sector, and classrooms management and reviewed their methods of teaching in 2012-2013 Academic Years. On this training, we focused on RWCT (Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking) and ERR teaching methods among our teachers for them. 
Class in session w/ FED/GHRE
Class in session w/ FED/GHRE

Jacqueline Lee is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southeast Asia. Her “Postcard” from the visit in Thailand:

On June 18 I visited Foundation for Education and Development/Grassroots Human Rights Education and Development in southern Thailand - a place called Khao Lak.

I saw and sat in on activities from preschool to the young adult youth outreach program.  The older children receive traditional schooling in addition to democracy and human rights training. In Thailand the problem is that to integrate migrant students into public schools, money and language-fluency in Thai is required, which many children of Burmese migrants don’t have. Additionally, transportation to these schools is not easy therefore students are provided transportation via the FED/GHRE truck from certain areas to the FED/GHRE school.

One FED/GHRE staff member I met had joined this organization at age 12 and continued through the program. She is now 19 and a translator for the organization. She said without FED/GHRE she probably would not have any opportunity and have to marry young or work in a plantation like many of her peers. I was able to also speak with a FED/GHRE recipient who has been integrated to a Thai school. He said he has both Thai and Burmese friends there and enjoys playing football as well as art class because he loves to draw mountains and landscapes.

Before I left, I was able to stop in one last time and observe a school celebration of Aung Suu Kyi’s birthday. The students were quizzed on historical events, the life of Aung Suu Kyi, and then watched a short documentary. Although there have been public changes within (Burma) Myanmar, there is an increase in new students arriving everyday to this school.  This group of multilingual Burmese youth in Thailand will grow up not only with math and language skills, but a with a global mindset trained in democracy and human rights.

To read more about my site visit JacquelineInTheField's Blog.

Preschool class!
Preschool class!
Celebrating Aung Suu Kyi
Celebrating Aung Suu Kyi's Birthday
Burmese migrants
Burmese migrants' children ready to learn!

Links:

Congratulations GlobalGiving!  Your support and donors’ gifts have been instrumental in helping FED reach the goal of serving migrant children from Burma with quality education and safe and healthy environments in which to learn.

FED is pleased to announce the opening of two new learning centers within just the past month.  The New Unified Learning Center in Khao Lak and the Mulberry-FED Learning Center in Kuraburi will educate approximately 470 students, ages 3-17 in Thailand’s Phang Nga Province.  

The Unified Learning Center in Khao Lak celebrated its opening May 9 and began classes on June 5. Currently, 320 students are enrolled for courses in English literacy, math, science, Thai and Burmese language as well as computer science.  Five learning centers have been consolidated into one Unified Learning Center, with core funding from Japan’s Umenohana restaurant group.  The former learning centers operated on rented land, many experiencing annual flooding of facilities which necessitated moving locations often during the school year to hold classes.  To maximize efficiencies in operations and provide a more quality education, the new Unified Learning Center was conceived and built.  Other major donors and partners include Annika Linden FoundationKhao Lak Community Appeal, Child’s Dream and Act Now Children’s Fund.

A collaborative education program alongside Andaman Discoveries, the Mulberry-FED learning center in Kuraburi has 6 classrooms for 150 students ages 3 to 14.  Six teachers, Burmese and Thai, will serve as core educators.   The Learning Center also includes a nursery for younger children and grades K-6.  Other major funding comes from Mulberry Public Relations and Act Now Children’s Fund.  The opening ceremony on June 5 was celebrated with student performances of traditional dance and attended by students, parents, community leaders, staff and volunteers.  Andaman Discoveries is a leader in sustainable travel and development in Thailand, enabling visitors and volunteers to support a community education, among other programs. 

Thanks again to GlobalGiving for your support.  Every gift helps sustain and grow a migrant child’s education. 

Visit the 2 links below to view some pictures and a very short video of the first day of school.

1st Day of School ULC

Nursery Students 1st Day of School

Links:

Burmese Community Celebrates the Opening of The United Learning Center in Khao Lak

Phang Nga Province, May 9, 2012: Over 350 people gathered today in Khao Lak to celebrate the opening of the United Learning Center - a center dedicated to educating the children of Burmese migrant workers here in Thailand. The school will serve the needs of over 300 children ages 3-17 with the goal of integrating them into the Thai community.

The United Learning Center is the vision of Mr. Htoo Chit, Executive Director of The Foundation for Education and Development (FED), a non profit organization created to serve the needs of the Burmese migrant community in the south of Thailand.  In his speech to the assembled crowd of parents, students, donors, administrators and Thai community leaders, Mr. Htoo Chit thanked all those who had graciously given their time and resources to making the opening a success. “This is a proud day for the Burmese community, we are thankful to all of our donors, volunteers and community leaders. Our children now have teachers, classrooms, health care facilities, and playgrounds to help them grow and flourish.”

The ceremony featured prayer services and a blessing from the Khuk Khak Monastery monks, and student performances of traditional Burmese, Thai and Moken community dances.  The building donor, Mr. Umeno, owner of a Japanese restaurant group Umenohana , addressed the children and urged them to ‘enjoy the school and work hard.” Mr. & Mrs. Umeno gave each child a box filled with new pencils to assist in their upcoming studies. Other majors donors include, the Annika Linden Foundation, Child’s Dream Foundation, Khao Lac Community Appeal, and Act Now Children’s Fund.

After speeches by Mr. Chit and the donors; the FED Board President, Ajan Kraisak Choonhavan, assembled the children on the stage to say thank you to the crowd in the three languages that they will study at the school, English, Thai and Burmese. Then in a typical and altogether appropriate fashion, the children dashed off to try out their new playground… a new school was officially opened.

For pictures of the event visit our facebook page by clicking here (Photos by Emmanuel Randon)

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Foundation for Education and Development (GHRE)

Location: Takuapa, Phang Nga - Thailand
Website: http:/​/​www.ghre.org
Project Leader:
Mark Del Greco
Development Director
Phang Nga, Thailand

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