Migrant Schools Struggle To Keep Going As International Funders Pull Out

The reduction in funds from international donors to the Thai-Burma border areas is threatening to close Burmese migrant schools.

Schoolteachers at the migrants learning centers on the border claim that they will be unable to continue to teach as they are currently struggling to feed their families and to pay their bills due to the drop in financial support this year.

In previous years, migrant schools received funds from donors and INGOs from the United States, Canada and Italy, but in 2014 many of these donor organizations have stopped providing financial support.

Naw Paw Ray, chairperson of the Burmese Migrant Workers’ Education Committee (BMWEC) told Karen News that this is making it hard to continue running the schools.

“Some of the donor organizations have decreased their support and some have totally stopped. We understand it’s due to the ‘changes’ that have been taking place inside Burma. Donors have shifted their funding to inside the country. But migrant schools [along the border] are in dire need of funding support and we are struggling to continue running our schools.”

Naw Paw Ray said that currently migrant schools do not have enough materials such as stationary, school furniture and student uniforms. Naw Paw Ray said that the migrant schools are trying to overcome the lack of financial support by cutting teachers’ salaries, collecting donation from parents and from fund raising activities.

According to BMWEC’s statistics for 2013, there were 74 Burmese Migrants schools with over 850 teachers and 15,000 students along Thai-Burma border. But in BMWEC 2014 figures, there are now 65 schools, with approximately 700 teachers and around 13,000 students.

Daw Nwe Ni, headmistress at the ‘Future Garden’ primary school said that their school has been operating without its teacher’ being paid a salary.

“We have been running our school without the teachers’ salary being paid since April [this year] – that’s four months. Some of the other schools are also facing similar problems like us. It is difficult to survive, especially for the teachers who have a family like myself as we still have to pay for our electricity, water and rent.”

Daw Nwe Ni said that she have seen some of the teachers as well as many students leave school and start looking for other work in order to earn money to feed their families.

Burmese Migrant schools in Tak Province are teaching curriculum recognized by Thailand’s Ministry of Education and the learning languages are based on the school administrative ethnicity such Burmese, Karen or Mon. All the recognized learning centers teach Thai.

In 2014, numbers of school, students and schoolteachers from Burmese migrant schools decreased due to the lack of financial support.

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