Creating Learning Opportunities, Creating Protection: Migrant Learning Centers in Thai-Burma Borderlands

Monday, July 14, 2014: 11:00 AM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Narumon ARUNOTAI , Chulalongkorn University, Pathumwan, Thailand
This paper presents results from the study of learning centers, their roles and effort in the education and protection of migrant children and youth around Thai-Burma border in Mae Sot District, Tak Province of Thailand.  The past decades saw frequent migration of people from several ethnic groups from Burma into Mae Sot District.  Many of these migrants are children and youth whose illegal status deprives them of legal protection.  From 1998-2012, the number of migrant learning centers was continuously on the rise to accommodate the flow of migrant children into Mae Sot area.  These learning centers have a major role in protecting migrant children. Centers become social institution to provide self-identity and connection with other people, and the children feel that they become a significant unit in this small community.  Learning centers serve as a communication link between children, youth, teachers, parents or guardians, and migrant community. They serve as a platform for negotiating meanings and power as they have to be in contact with local government offices, to ensure safety for teachers and children, to negotiate with employers should the children are child labor, and most importantly, to identify funding sources and to administer educational and personnel affairs.  Educational management for borderlands migrant children is especially difficult due to diversity in gender, age, language, ethnicity, religion, legal status, and personal background that may require particular attention or assistance.    Children and youth living in borderlands may also face other difficulties and challenges with their family, community, and with conflicts and violence occurred in border areas.  This makes them especially vulnerable.  Therefore, future educational policy has to consider the roles of centers and schools in rehabilitating and healing these inner wounds.