Shan Children are Receiving Better Education in Thailand

Shan children are receiving better education in Thailand. Due to the conflict and civil war in Burma, children have fled to Thailand with their parents. The living conditions in Burma were terrible, especially, in the rural areas in the conflict zone. There is neither health service nor education for children. In Thailand, children can get more opportunities in education. Children are helped by monasteries, CBOs and NGOs to access to basic education and health care. Children are staying in Thailand safely and their parents and relatives have no worries that their children would be recruited to the army, would be tortured or would suffer from harassment as these are very high risks in Burma. Nobody wants these things to happen to their children.

Many Shan children who have come from Burma are living on the Thai-Burmese Border with difficult conditions. There are many things have made children from Burma feel isolated and feel that they have limited chances in education, health care, personal expression. As a consequence, Many Shan children have been faced with many troubles in their lives. Though Thailand has a policy called, “Free 15 years education for all children”, in practice, in many places, children can’t get into school. The problems are:
1. Communication problems, the parents didn’t get information and didn’t know the policy,
2. The schools don’t want to have children with no status, as they have the negative attitudes toward this group of children and as it is complicated in documenting,
3 there are extra expenses, such as extracurricular costs, more uniforms and shoes which are not included in the free education policy and the government hasn’t provided. Many parents and relatives can’t afford for their children to attend school and
4.Many schools deny taking children with no status for the reason that Ministry of interior is concerned with state security. In some areas the schools compromise and try to help children with no status to get into school. Only some Shan children can do this, many still can’t access school, especially, Shan children who are staying on farms which are outside the town. The other trouble for many Shan children to get into schools is their age, they have never been into school before, so they are too old to begin to study in grade one.

Parents, relatives or caregivers have a lack of knowledge to care for their children and their children’s education. Most Shan children came to Thailand with their parents, and there are many children who were sent with their relatives or their neighbours. Many children were orphans whose parents died of sickness or in war. People fled to Thailand for safety and expect to have a better daily life. It’s not easy on their arrival. The main problem is lack of status, poverty and trouble in communication.

“On their arrival, they have to stay out of the town or in the farms, they can’t be in public. They have to start to do the work in farms with low pay and hard jobs; it’s very hard for them.
Parents have to move around to look for jobs and it effects to their children’s study that children can’t stay in the same place for school,” (Mwe, 2010).

“Many children were sent to Thailand for opportunity in education. They can’t have a chance to study in Burma. Lives of children in Burma is difficult, the schools are only in the big town. Children in the rural areas do not have chance to go to school, “ (Ven Phra Maha Waikoang 2010.)

Due to the situation and conflict in Burma many people have made their way to Thailand. Most of the people from Burma that have fled to Thailand lived in the conflict and war zone areas. Their lives in Burma had no security, no education, and no health service. Many children were born at home. Sickness and diseases were treated the traditional way. Lives for children, women and men are dangerous. The army recruits child soldiers and rapes women, which causes much suffering. Nobody wants to be forced laborers or land mine sweepers. Many people come to Thailand seeking safety and peace. People who come to Thailand wish to have a better daily life and try to be away from the brutal government. They know that in Thailand they can work and earn money to support for their family. Moreover, they know that their children will be safe and can go to school. The parents learnt that only education will help their children to have a good future.

Many children, especially, boys whose parents are poor and who are orphans in Thailand were sent to a monastery to stay as novice and study. This group of children gets help from the monastery. In Thailand, children have more opportunities in education; both the government and communities encourage children to go to school. Hundreds and hundreds of children are staying at the schools that have been set up by organizations on the Thai-Burma border.

The Shan children have more opportunities in education in Thailand. Though, it is not easy for the children to access to school, as they don’t have status, the parents have financial problems and cannot afford their children to school. Due to the conflict in Burma, people had made their way to Thailand, and their children now have chance to study. There are organizations that provide help in education for children and the governmental organizations are considering education for children with no status. The governmental organizations and NGOs should learn to understand more about the Shan children and work together to help developing living conditions and chance in education for children, so children can have more opportunities in education. Parents, relatives and caregivers should be educated and informed clearly so that all children can learn. Shan children should be also given chance and stage to tell their stories and dreams through books, websites and videos, with this we all can learn more about them and can give more help to them.

- WoangPeang, P. (2010, June 10). Coordinator of The Life Skills Development Foundation. Interview.
- Phra Visutho, V. (2010, June 9). The abbot of WatArunotai. Interview.
- Khambang, N. (2010, June 9). Teacher at Schools of Hope, Nong Ook, Chiangdao. Interview.
- PhraKoangMun, D. (2010, June 9). Teacher at Schools of Hope, Nong Ook, Chiangdao. Interview.
- LoongJing, M. (2010, June 9). Teacher at Schools of Hope, Nong Ook, Chiangdao. Interview.

by Noom Hkurh, July 2010
Welcome to Schools of Hope!

We are a group of dedicated people who care about the promotion of child rights, especially those of the disadvantaged and displaced children living along the Thai/Burmese border.

Our mission is to set up schools to provide poor children, who are from the Shan and other ethnic minorities, with free education and basic health care.

Thank you for helping us provide these children hope and a better life.