ADRA recognizes that education can help reduce vulnerability, safeguard against violence, abuse, and exploitation. We further recognize that any child or adult with an education has the opportunity for a better future, though not all have equal access to education.
In Thailand, the Education for All policy was adopted in 2005 which provides children free universal education regardless of their nationality. However, language barriers, discrimination, lack of access to resources, and financial hardship create barriers towards education, particularly for many migrant, stateless and displaced children. ADRA Thailand is addressing some of these barriers through a range of projects and initiatives.
Thailand is a focus country for ADRA’s Every child. Everywhere. In School campaign with a goal to support migrant children access education. In Thailand, approximately 200,000 of 364,000 migrant children are out-of-school. ADRA Thailand has advocated to the Ministry of Education and worked with schools to provide language support, effectively reducing the rate of out-of-school numbers. Overcoming language barriers makes it possible for children to remain in school.
A stateless person is one who under national laws does not enjoy citizenship. Statelessness is sometimes referred to as an invisible problem because stateless people often remain unseen and unheard. Officially there are over 500,000 individuals recognized as stateless in Thailand, many of whom are children. A life without legal identity means they are discriminated against with limited to no access to education, healthcare, social protections and are therefore at higher risk of violence, exploitation, trafficking, and child labor.
ADRA Thailand’s Statelessness Reduction and Community Sensitization (CSP) project runs sensitization events to reduce discrimination and stigma in schools working with district education officials to register these children. Once registered, they can enroll and continue their education under the Thai Universal Education Policy.
Presently, ADRA Thailand works with the local government in Chiang Rai province to assess school children and support their enrollment into Thailand’s civil registration system. Students receive a temporary identity number which allows schools to incorporate them into their books and receive government appropriations. The project has further worked in collaboration with Asia Pacific International University to offer 10 University scholarships a year for stateless persons as a pathway towards citizenship.
The Thailand Education Council in January 2022 reported that 1.2 million children had dropped out of school resulting from poverty, family issues and other factors that make it hard for them to study. ADRA Thailand’s Keep Girls Safe (KGS) project in Chiang Rai province responds to some of these challenges by providing education support to children at risk of dropping out of school.
ADRA Thailand partners with 8 schools to provide scholarships which cover the costs of school supplies, lunches, medical expenses, and education related expenses. ADRA also provides safe shelter to these girls who are at risk, not only of dropping out of school, but of being forced into early marriage, child labor or human trafficking. These girls are given the opportunity to live in a safe nurturing environment with the promise of an education right through to university.
Two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have left far-reaching impacts on most aspects of life, including education. Globally, UNHCR estimates that 48 percent of all refugee children remain out-of-school as a result. In Thailand, despite school closure in 2021, there was an increase in enrollment numbers in the temporary shelters.
During the pandemic, ADRA Thailand implemented the Basic Education Support towards Transition (BEST) project with its partners providing continued education support through home-based learning approaches. This enabled children to remain engaged with their teachers, and as such, school dropouts were mitigated. The BEST project also made it possible for 749 teachers to remain in class by paying their monthly stipend, while 16,751 displaced children across 7 temporary shelters received scholastic materials and supplies. Additionally, 39 schools received much needed repairs creating safer learning environments. ADRA Thailand continues to work with the Office of Vocational Education Commission under the Ministry of Education to facilitate training programs to youth within the temporary shelters to develop skills and abilities for employment.
Author: Elvis Walemba, ADRA Thailand
Photo: © 2023 ADRA | Emma McCrow
*This article was featured under ‘Technical Focus’ in ADRA Asia Regional Office’s quarterly Magazine ADRA Asia Focus Vol 3 | No 1*
Visit the ADRA Thailand website to learn more: https://adrathailand.org/