Many children of migrants from Myanmar (Burma) living in Thailand are unable to access education because of family pressures to earn an income during the day. Following an outreach program conducted by World Education to assess the needs of migrant children, staff found that many children were indeed missing out on education because their parents needed them to work in the fields and in the shops to earn a daily wage for the family. As a result, World Education opened Literacy Centers in 2012 for all those children who could not attend school during the day. School in the Center begins in the evenings after work and provides a second chance to get an education to those who had previously dropped out of or not attended school.
Even when they are able to access education, many migrant children have not had it officially recognized. This is especially true for alternative education opportunities, and for those who would like to have their education recognized once they return to Myanmar. Students who cannot provide official documentation of their education completed in Thailand would need to start their education again from the beginning in Myanmar, a distressing prospect for parents and children. To address this problem, World Education began working in 2014 with government officials in Myanmar to organize a recognized education program using the government’s non-formal primary education (NFPE) program.
Due to the implementation of the NFPE program in the Literacy Centers in Thailand and the cooperation of Myanmar Ministry of Education officials, students age 10-14 are now able to receive a recognized certificate from the government for those students that complete the NFPE program. This will allow students to enroll in the formal school system, at their appropriate grade level, upon return to Myanmar. There are currently 34 Literacy Center students enrolled in the NFPE program. All of them have sat their final exams for the year and are looking forward to their results in April 2015.