Pro­gram helps cut red tape to en­rol migrant stu­dents in school

The Myanmar Times - - News - EI SHWE PHYU news­room@mm­times.com

AL­MOST a quar­ter of a mil­lion chil­dren will gain access to ed­u­ca­tion un­der a plan that will go into ef­fect in the com­ing aca­demic year. The chil­dren of migrant work­ers on the ThaiMyan­mar bor­der can en­rol in ei­ther Myan­mar or Thai schools through the Wel­com­ing School Pro­gram, the Migrant Ed­u­ca­tion In­te­gra­tion Ini­tia­tive has con­firmed. The ini­tia­tive works with 17 dif­fer­ent groups on im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tion for the chil­dren of mi­grants.

Myan­mar stu­dents can be en­rolled in the bor­der area where migrant work­ers live, or in Myan­mar, from Grade 1 up to Grade 9. How­ever, many migrant fam­i­lies are not fa­mil­iar with the school­ing op­tions for their chil­dren, or the doc­u­ments that would be re­quired to en­rol. The Wel­com­ing Schools Pro­gram has been work­ing with the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and the Migrant Ed­u­ca­tion In­te­gra­tion Ini­tia­tive to help the migrant fam­i­lies com­plete the ad­min­is­tra­tive steps nec­es­sary for their chil­dren to at­tend for­mal school­ing.

In July, the MEII, the ed­u­ca­tion min­istry and BEAM, one of the mem­ber groups of the MEII, com­piled a 15-chap­ter set of guide­lines on how the project would work out in prac­tice.

“Our pro­gram ex­tends only to Grade 9 be­cause the Myan­mar ma­tric­u­la­tion takes place in Grade 10 across the coun­try,” said U Kyaw Kyaw Min Htut, the net­work co­or­di­na­tor of the Migrant Ed­u­ca­tion In­te­gra­tion Ini­tia­tive.

While stu­dents have been able to take the ma­tric­u­la­tion exam out­side of Myan­mar since 2011, very few do so, and even fewer end up pass­ing. Of the 102 Myan­mar stu­dents liv­ing in Thai­land who man­aged to take the ma­tric­u­la­tion exam this year, only 17 passed.

“We’re now draw­ing up de­tailed guide­lines, to be com­pleted by the end of this month in time for next aca­demic year. It will be in use in Oc­to­ber as a pi­lot pro­gram,” U Kyaw Kyaw Min Htut said.

Ac­cord­ing to an ed­u­ca­tion foun­da­tion re­port by BEAM, there are nearly 400,000 chil­dren un­der the age of 15 on the Thai-Myan­mar bor­der. About 150,000 of them at­tend Thai schools or un­dergo in­for­mal ed­u­ca­tion in Thai­land, and more than 25,000 study in migrant learn­ing cen­tres. The re­main­ing 220,000 do not access any ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram, and may lack the doc­u­men­ta­tion needed for en­rol­ment in Myan­mar schools, a bar­rier the Wel­com­ing School Pro­gram helps them over­come.

“There must be an ac­cred­ited sys­tem for stu­dents, whether they are learn­ing in the migrant re­gion or in Myan­mar,” said U Kyaw San, the head of the Dawn migrant learn­ing cen­tre.

“All migrant fam­i­lies want to even­tu­ally re­turn to Myan­mar, but it de­pends on the job op­por­tu­ni­ties and the fam­i­lies’ eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion,” he said, adding that ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties for migrant chil­dren are needed in the mean­time.

U Khaing Myal, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Al­ter­na­tive Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment in the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, said he could not yet con­firm that his depart­ment would be in­volved in carrying out the plan.

Photo: AFP

Myan­mar chil­dren whose par­ents work in Thai­land at­tend class at a Catholic cen­tre in Sa­mut Sakhon province in 2014.

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