For the millions of Myanmar migrant workers living in Thailand, one of the many struggles is trying to figure out how to get their kids an education.
Education centres, which, unlike Thai schools, are free to attend for Myanmar students, did not receive support from the Myanmar government last academic year and they are still without government funding this year, Burmese Migrant Worker’s Education Committee chair Naw Phaw Yay told The Myanmar Times.
Most education centres in the Mae Sot refugee camp in Thailand need donors and are having a hard time staying open. Of the 65 schools opened by the Burmese Migrant Worker’s Education Committee, 25 of them are not getting financial backing this academic year and they are struggling to avoid closure, she said.
During her recent trip to Thailand, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said the two governments will work together to allow matriculation exams to be taken on both sides of the border, but Nay Phaw Yay, who is also a teacher, said this is a settled issue.
“Students have been able to take the matriculation exams outside of Myanmar since 2011,” she said.
Nay Phaw Yay said she would like the state counsellor to focus on keeping the education centres open and improving the quality of education for Myanmar students living in Thailand.
Of the 102 Myanmar students living in Thailand who managed to take the matriculation exam this year, only 17 passed, Naw Phay Yay said.
The government also needs to consider how it is going to pay teachers and improve the homes that teachers are provided, she said.
Ministry of Education director general U Khine Myel said they will discuss these issues in an upcoming education meeting. They plan to invite teachers from the education centres to that meeting, he said. Beyond that, he declined to comment.
Nay Phaw Yay said he hoped the struggle for education access in Thailand remained on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s radar.
“We’ve not had a chance to express our concerns about the education centres. We want her to know about the Myanmar children in the migrant region. We want her to know about the situations at the migrant schools. I don’t want the education staff helping these children to lose hope.”
– Translation by Khant Lin Oo