Help 18 Marginalized Youths Finish High School

by BEAM Education Foundation
Help 18 Marginalized Youths Finish High School
Help 18 Marginalized Youths Finish High School
Help 18 Marginalized Youths Finish High School
Help 18 Marginalized Youths Finish High School
Help 18 Marginalized Youths Finish High School
Help 18 Marginalized Youths Finish High School
Help 18 Marginalized Youths Finish High School
Help 18 Marginalized Youths Finish High School
Help 18 Marginalized Youths Finish High School
Help 18 Marginalized Youths Finish High School
Help 18 Marginalized Youths Finish High School
Help 18 Marginalized Youths Finish High School
Help 18 Marginalized Youths Finish High School
Help 18 Marginalized Youths Finish High School
Moht is in her first year at the university
Moht is in her first year at the university

Dear all,

Greetings from the BEAM Education Foundation! 

For the past months, the world has grappled with COVID-19 and its devastating consequences. It is our sincerest hope that this report reaches you and your loved ones in good health! We hope that as you read this report, you will find a reason to remain hopeful of better days ahead, knowing that you are making a lasting impact in the lives of others, our students.

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions. We are forever grateful for your investment in our students.

 

1. GED Course Background:

Since 2010, BEAM has been implementing the GED (General Education Development) course, an American-based and internationally recognized non-formal high school diploma course. This course allows a student without a formal education background to receive an official high school diploma which is required for accessing tertiary education. A one-year program, the GED course aims to prepare our students to pass their examinations and to apply for college and university. Migrant students from many different ethnic groups in Myanmar come to BEAM Education Foundation to study together with the hopes of achieving recognized high school certificates and applying to international programs at universities. There are four test subjects taught in this course: Reasoning through Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, and Science.

 

2. 2020/2021 GED Academic Year Update: 

We are happy to share that the new academic year (2020-2021) for our GED course started in June 2020 and we currently have 33 enrolled students. Due to the COVID-19 situation, most of our classes have been conducted online by our volunteer teachers. There are three semesters in one academic year; each semester is four months long. The first semester successfully ended in the first week of September and our second semester started two weeks ago and runs till the end of December this year. Our current GED students will end their program in April 2021. Classes are being provided both in the morning (9 am – 12 pm) and in the evening (6 pm – 9 pm) with both face-to-face and online sessions. Students are free to choose the session that best fits their schedules. Additional classes are offered on the weekends.


3. Impact of COVID-19

Due to the COVI-D19 pandemic and its resulting travel restrictions, a number of our GED students are in Myanmar and not able to travel back to Thailand. We currently have 12 out of 33 residing in Chiang Mai who attend our face-to-face classes. The rest of our students residing outside of Chiang Mai/Thailand attend classes online via Zoom. In a recent end-of-first semester survey we conducted, our students honestly shared the challenges they are facing with online learning. Some of these challenges included lack of access to personal computers, unstable internet connection, and the lack of a conducive environment (physical spaces to serve as a classroom or learning space). 

Also, due to the pandemic, a number of our students have not been able to write the GED exams due to the test center in Mae Sot being closed down. As a result of this, these students may have to wait for another year before applying and gaining admission to the university after they have written the GED exams.

 

4. GED Test Taking Progress:

18 of our students earlier this year, took the GED exam and successfully passed while 12 have just one or two exams yet to be written. Five of these students resat one of their exams for better scores and their efforts were rewarded as they succeeded in their second attempts. One of whom has been admitted to pursue a degree in social science at the Chiang Mai University with a scholarship, four have been admitted to pursue different degrees at the Mae Fah Luang University, one has been admitted to pursue a degree in politics, philosophy, and economics, and yet another to pursue a bachelor's gree in international relations and development (her testimonial is shared in this report).

 

5. GED Testimonials:

We are happy to share testimonials from three of our students who successfully completed the GED course at BEAM. The first is that of Moht. In her submission, Moht shares her reason for pursuing the GED, some challenges she faced, and how she overcame them, among others. She is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in International Relationships and Development at one of the universities in Thailand, with a partial scholarship awarded by the university. 

 

Testimonial 1: Moht

Why did you decide to take the GED test? 

I always dreamed of studying abroad and I knew that the GED certificate could help me achieve my dream. My parents encouraged me to study international programs, too. That was why I took the GED exam.

What did you like about the GED program?

I loved to learn about U.S. history and its government systems. 

What were some of the challenges you faced as you pursued the GED program? 

My challenge was English. My English was not good enough to learn everything in the GED program.

Did you overcome the challenges mentioned above? If yes, how did you overcome them? 

I tried to practice my speaking skills every day with my friends. I watched some English subtitle movies and listened to English songs. Now, I feel like my English is better than before.

How were you involved in any community development during the GED journey or after graduating from the GED program? 

I participated in the Youth Conference by BEAM and the JUMP Foundation. I learned a lot from that conference like leadership skills or how to solve global issues. I was also involved in making masks and hand gel for people during the COVID-19 pandemic. I really enjoyed it!

Share with us how you plan to serve your community, country, and the world. 

International Relationships and Development train students to think theoretically and practically.  I want to be a social worker who can contribute and make changes in my community or at the international level, especially in education. I want to improve the educational system of my country and also the economic and political systems.

 

Testimonial 2: Mee Mee

My name is Mee Mee and I am from Karen State, Myanmar. My parents are illiterate farmers who grew rice in Karen State to support our basic sustenance. I finished my General Educational Development program at BEAM Education Foundation in 2019-20. Right now, I am doing my internship at Shade Tree Foundation (Non-Governmental Organization) which is located in Mae Sot, Tak, Thailand while waiting for a scholarship to further my education at an international university. Currently, I work at the office two days a week. There are three programs that I participate in at my workplace. They are Family Engagement (FEN), Family Education (FED), and Family Enterprise(FEP). I follow FEP’s team every Tuesday to learn how the team helps families to manage their income and expense. Besides, I go with FEN’s team every Wednesday and leave the office around nine to distribute foods to families who are in poverty. We traveled around in the Mae Sot area to offer food to each house. Our team does not only provide foodstuffs but also encourages families by comforting them and making them know that someone is lending a helping hand when they are in trouble. Finally, I join the FED team on Fridays to give training on how to have effective relationships between parents and children. Also, I translate English into my native language (Karen language). Overall, these are all my daily routines to gain more experience at the foundation. 

 

Testimonial 3: Char Lay

Why did you decide to take the GED test?

As a migrant student in a refuge camp, how could I further my education after high school when my country's education system is not recognized where I am currently located. I heard about the GED from a teacher and I had no idea what it was. Later, I got to know that it is recognized in some parts of the world, and with a GED certificate, a student can study wherever they want to. Therefore, I decided to take the GED test to be able to attend university and attain my future career goal.

What did you like about the GED program?

What I liked the most about the GED program was that it did not focus on memorization. It tested how well I understood the passages written in English. I learned a lot of new things about America.

What were some of the challenges you faced as you pursued the GED program?

Whenever I took the practice tests, I felt very bad about my low scores because of the level of my English speaking skill. Also, I lost confidence every time I received results from my semesters' exams. I thought the real tests would be harder and I would not pass. My participation in class was another problem. I usually did not have any questions to ask during class so it seemed like I did not like to participate and I would not get any point for participation. About a month before the end of the GED program, my computer stopped working. Because of this, during my preparation for the main GED exam, I used my phone which had a small screen.

Did you overcome the challenges mentioned above?

Yes, I tried to practice the quizzes every day at least for one or two hours and I did my assignments on time but I still failed the practice tests sometimes. However, I got to understand more about the tests and I improved and felt confident to sit the exam. Also, I tried to ask at least one question in each class. Even when I had no question, I followed up on the questions my friends asked.

How were you involved in any community development during the GED journey or after graduating from the GED program? 

We attended a Youth Conference and met with a lot of people. We discussed about the needs in our communities and designed projects. We designed projects which were selected but they could not happen because of the pandemic. We volunteered to teach students every weekend at Wat Sang Moe. We also had a cultural exchange program with students from Singapore and also with some students from Mae Jo University who taught us the Thai language. Some of us the students were involved in BEAM's fight against the spread of the COVID virus and helped to make masks and hand gels and soap. 

What are your plans now that you have completed the GED program? 

I applied for one scholarship before I took the GED test, unfortunately, I was rejected. I have also missed so many scholarship deadlines because I could not take my GED exam earlier due to the pandemic. As soon as I took the exam, I was accepted into universities but I got stuck with that because there were no scholarships. Now, I am doing an internship with Charis Projects (Shade Tree Foundation) and helping and learning mostly from their communication department. My plan is to contribute to the organization as much as I can and prepare scholarship essays for the incoming 2021 scholarship applications.

Share with us how you plan to serve your community, country, and the world. 

My interest is in the environmental sciences and so my long term plan is to save the earth. I believe I can do positive things to impact our communities and would work on environmental sustainability in the future. 

Mee Mee is interning at the Shade Tree Foundation
Mee Mee is interning at the Shade Tree Foundation

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Students Celebrating at BEAM's 10-Year Anniversary
Students Celebrating at BEAM's 10-Year Anniversary

Dear all,

Greetings from BEAM Education Foundation!

We hope you are staying safe and well in this season, even as we all face the immediate impacts of COVID-19. The final semester of the GED Program at BEAM was successfully finished in late March 2020. Most of our students planned to take the GED exams starting early May depending on the reopenings of the GED testing centers due to the outbreak. Some of the alumni students are already in universities and have gotten scholarships. During the final semester, we focused on GED exam preparation and university preparation; we had some extra-curricular activities. We would like to share updates about our students and program here.

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, etc. Thank you so much for your time, interest, and support. We wish everyone continued good health and well-being. We would like to express our deepest gratitude.

1. CYLD/GED Program for Higher Education

BEAM has implemented the GED Program as part of the Higher Education Preparation and Community Youth Leader Development (CYLD) Program. This program is designed to provide migrants and border youth with a classroom for pursuing accredited education, professional development training, research training, internship and community impact projects, and an ASEAN youth network. BEAM has ten years of experience in training youth for pursuing higher education, professional development, building professional networks, and empowering them to engage in community service.

The GED (General Education Development) program, an American-based and internationally recognized non-formal high school diploma course, allows students without a formal education background to receive an official high school diploma which is required for accessing tertiary education. All courses are taught by native English speakers to effectively prepare students for their exams. There are four test subjects: Reasoning through Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, and Science.

2. Teaching Activities

The final semester at BEAM's GED program ran from January 6th to March 22nd. BEAM’s curriculum has been using a student-centered teaching approach with connected topics covered in class to real-world situations, as this is important for the students’ overall comprehension and retention. This also gives students not just a theoretical understanding of each lesson, but also knowledge of its practical application. All teachers give homework assignments and assign projects to encourage independent study.

BEAM’s GED students demonstrate the basis of a democratic environment where participants co-operate, respect each other, work together, look for and provide support in the learning process, establish rules of behavior, and continuously work to improve themselves and their learning community. Teachers and students are encouraged to try out strategies that promote democratic behavior in safe spaces.

During the last semester, the biggest impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak are on GED classes, GED exams, and program cancellations. All BEAM classes had to end earlier, and we weren’t able to have graduation commencement for the GED students. GED testing centers have been closed until further notice. This tremendously influences our students’ exam schedule as well as university & scholarship applications. Our recruitment of the new GED cohort was delayed for a week, but thankfully, we finished it during the week of March 16. We had the entrance exam in Mae Sot, Yangon, and Chiang Mai. Many students from refugee camps couldn’t travel to Mae Sot for our entrance interviews due to increased restrictions.

The Thai cabinet approved to postpone the reopening of all schools (including learning centers such as BEAM) for the new semester from until July. Also, many of our migrant students have returned to Myanmar from Thailand after losing their jobs due to the shutdowns. These migrant workers don't have savings and they live day-to-day on their minimum wages. Considering the major effects of this pandemic, we are still not sure how our students would be coming back to Thailand, getting back their previous jobs, and processing their legal visa paperwork. We are adapting to the challenges of COVID19, which makes education access even more difficult. Because in-person classes and travels are postponed due to COVID19, BEAM will provide online classes first.

3. GED Test Taking Progress

The final semester exam was conducted in the week of 16 – 22 March 2020. Students are prepared for the official computer-based GED tests starting in May 2020. Academic advisors require an additional two or three GED tests (per subject) to be taken online, as well as a one-on-one meeting online with an advisor before official recommendations are made. Based primarily on exam scores and teacher recommendations, students will be divided into three tiers. Tier 1 includes students who scored sufficiently high enough on their final semester exams and additional tests to secure exam referrals quickly. There are 16 students in the recommendation list for Science, 12 students in the recommendation list for Social studies, and 22 students in the list of Math. Exams for this group have started in May 2020.

The rest of the students were placed in Tier 2 and 3 and require additional extensive tutoring from teachers before exam referrals can be made. Advisors and students aim for this group to finish their exams in the end of June 2020. Many students in this group will take 1 or 2 exams earlier, according to their capacity. Each student in Tier 2 and Tier 3 is required to take two or three sets of practice exams online, and meet with an advisor online before official exams are set.

In the 2018-19 academic year, 33 students have successfully passed the GED, and among them, 14 students got into the Universities in Thailand include Chiang Mai University, Mae Fah Luang, Rangsit, ABAC, APIU and Thammasat University. All our recent graduates now join the 176 BEAM alumni since 2010 who have successfully earned their GED diplomas. According to our students’ achievement database, 86 of them are studying at Universities while the rest are working back in their communities as teachers and health care assistants, or in other service sectors. So far in 2020, 41 of BEAM’s Higher Education Program students graduated from different universities in Thailand.

4. Extracurricular Activities of Students

CYLD Students participating in BEAM’s 10-Year Anniversary Celebration

2020 is a special year for BEAM--we just celebrated our 10-year anniversary on February 29th. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to all of our partner organizations, donors, students, alumni, staff, and community members for supporting BEAM's work in empowering communities for the past ten years.

CYLD students helped tremendously with organizing the celebration, preparing food, performing dances, and cleaning. Students performed dances from diverse cultures such as Thai, Karen, and Shan. A group of CYLD (GED) students performed the ASEAN Song of Unity, in which they dressed up to represent and celebrate the diversity of ASEAN. Moreover, BEAM teachers and alumni shared their experiences with BEAM. The common thread in their stories is the power of community--they are grateful for BEAM’s support and honored to contribute to BEAM. All of these diverse talents contribute to BEAM’s supportive network. We are thankful to our staff, teachers, students, and alumni for their contributions to the celebration.

International Women’s Day 2020

On 8th March 2018, BEAM students, teachers, and staff participated in the International Women’s Day event at Tha Pae Gate, Chiang Mai. MAP Foundation organized the Women’s Day March, where more than 150 people gathered to walk the perimeter of Chiang Mai’s Old City in a demonstration for women’s rights. It was a powerful sight. The crowd that gathered comprised of women from all walks of life and allies who came to support the movement.

Many carried signs with messages for the people in cars, songtaews, and motorbikes passing by. One sign read “Equal Work for Equal Pay.” One of the women leading chants at the head of the march explained the symbolism of a broom: “The broom is symbolic of women working, but we keep the broom today; we strike today, and we’re not working. We’re making our demands.”

Every year, women, especially migrant women, gather from all different areas to come and share their experiences and to plan out what they are going to do next. Women are here and ready to fight for land reform, representation, equal pay, paid family leave and, as always, equality.

Little Communities Campaign for Fighting Against COVID19

CYLD students are currently assisting with the production of COVID-19 protection materials.

COIVD19 is a global pandemic spreading at a wild speed and scale. If the infection reaches to underprivileged communities, we can only imagine the crisis as wildfire.

The underprivileged communities include migrant communities, grassroots communities and communities along with the border areas. Since the businesses locked down in the cities of Thailand due to the growing infections, thousands of migrants and grassroots workers returned home across provinces and along the border. In the villages, there is a limitation of awareness, limitation of protection and prevention materials while thousands of returnees are flowing back in. If the pandemic reaches to these communities, the effect will not only be in these communities, the effects will spread to the central areas because of the food supply chain and interdependency.

Regarding this emergency situation, BEAM is taking the leading role and launching the Little Communities Campaign for Fighting Against COVID19.

The campaign will include 5 sessions:

  1. Production and distribution of masks in the communities by following the prevention standards
  2. Production and distribution of hand sanitizer to underprivileged communities.
  3. Promotion of prevention awareness in the communities
  4. Supporting community-based quarantine centers
  5. Supporting healthcare workers in border areas.

Recent Geographical areas of the campaign

Thailand: Chiang Mai province, Tak province (Maesot), Ranong province

Myanmar: Shan state, Karen state, Kayah state, Mon state, Taninthayi division, Ayeyarwaddy divisions.

Beneficiaries include migrants, people from grassroots communities, healthcare workers. BEAM’s CYLD/GED students are currently assisting the operations of the campaign.

For more details about the Campaign, please check out our post on our Facebook page.

We have another GlobalGiving page for this fundraising campaign if you are interested in supporting it.

Lastly, thank you so much for reading this report and for your support of BEAM communities. Please stay safe and take care! 

 

In solidarity,

BEAM Education Foundation

Ready to distribute COVID-19 protection materials
Ready to distribute COVID-19 protection materials
Ready to transport to Mae Sot for distribution
Ready to transport to Mae Sot for distribution
Distribution donation items at CM Night Bazaar
Distribution donation items at CM Night Bazaar
Students volunteer at Mask product project
Students volunteer at Mask product project
Students volunteer at Hand Soap product project
Students volunteer at Hand Soap product project

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BEAM's winner team students at Youth Conference
BEAM's winner team students at Youth Conference

Dear all,

The BEAM team would like to wish you a very happy 2020, and we hope your year is off to a strong start! Our GED students are in their homestretch - their final semester at BEAM is from January to March. Most of them will take the GED exams (4 subjects including math, science, language arts, and social studies) from March to May. Soon they will be applying to universities and scholarships. Thus, this semester emphasizes GED and university preparation; we have fewer extra-curricular activities than the past two semesters. We would like to share updates about our students and program here.

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, etc. Thank you so much for your time, interest, and support - we would like to express our deepest gratitude.

 

1. BEAM Background 

BEAM Education Foundation (BEAM) was founded in January 2010 as a registered non-profit educational foundation to respond to rising educational needs of migrants and refugee youth living in Thailand, most of who are from Myanmar. Currently, Thailand is hosting about 3 million migrants from Myanmar, which comprise 4-5% of the total population of Thailand, with a much higher proportion found in northern cities like Chiang Mai. This population makes significant contributions to the Thai economy by working in agricultural, industrial, and service sectors. 65 percent of this population is between the ages of 18 to 25, and they are mostly from rural communities of Myanmar. Due to their status as migrant workers, which is oftentimes a tenuous legal status, there are many barriers for migrants to access to social services including education. 

BEAM envisions local, people-oriented, peaceful, and developed communities in Myanmar and Thailand, which can be sustained by empowering local communities through comprehensive education. In the past 8 years, BEAM experienced and proved that migrant youth are highly potential to be leaders for bringing positive change in communities along the Thailand-Myanmar border areas where people are more marginalized and receive limited opportunities for development.

 

2. GED Program for Higher Education

BEAM has implemented the GED Program as part of the Higher Education Preparation and Community Young Leaders Development Program. This program is designed to provide migrants and border youth with a classroom for pursuing accredited education, professional development training, research training, internship and community impact projects, and an ASEAN youth network. BEAM has ten years of experience in training youth for pursuing higher education, professional development, building professional networks, and empowering them to engage in community service. 

The GED (General Education Development) program, an American-based and internationally recognized non-formal high school diploma course, allows students without a formal education background to receive an official high school diploma which is required for accessing tertiary education. All courses are taught by native English speakers to effectively prepare students for their exams. There are four test subjects: Reasoning through Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, and Science.

 

3. Teaching Activities

The final semester at BEAM's GED program runs from January 6th to March 27th. BEAM’s curriculum has been using a student-centered teaching approach with connected topics covered in class to real-world situations, as this is important for the students’ overall comprehension and retention. This also gives students not just a theoretical understanding of each lesson, but also knowledge of its practical application. All teachers give homework assignments and assign projects to encourage independent study.

BEAM’s GED students demonstrate the basis of a democratic environment where participants co-operate, respect each other, work together, look for and provide support in the learning process, establish rules of behavior, and continuously work to improve themselves and their learning community. Teachers and students are encouraged to try out strategies that promote democratic behavior in safe spaces.

The GED teachers include David Friedberg (Social Studies), David Lucero (Math), Alan Tin-Win (Science), and Lulu Zhou (Reasoning through Language Arts). The GED classes are divided into 2 morning classes (9am-12:00pm)  and 2 evening classes (6pm-9pm) in order to accommodate students' schedules;  many of our students are part-time students who work as well. In the afternoon, there are also extra support English classes taught by volunteers, many of whom are part of Chiang Mai International Rotary. During the final semester, the extra-support classes will focus on GED exam preparation for students. 


During the first and second semesters, Daniel Mitterhoff (Professor of Social Sciences at Khon Kaen University) taught a college-prep class called “Mekong Region History, Politics, and Society,” in which students learned more about their home region as well as advanced English. Currently, students are working on their final project: a 7-10 page paper about a specific topic in the Southeast Asia region (such as traditions, languages, religions, environment, education, etc). 

Students will take their final semester exams in late March. Afterward, we will have a commencement ceremony for the 2019-2020 cohort. 
 


3. Extracurricular Activities of Students 

Participating in BEAM’s 2019 Youth Conference (November 2019)

As mentioned in the previous report, BEAM and JUMP! Foundation organized a youth leadership conference, "Youth Action and Green Action", from November 1st to 3rd in 2019, in Chiang Mai. The Conference provided a space and an opportunity for Thai national, Thai ethnic, and Myanmar youth to work together and collaborate on tackling environmental issues. 70 participants (about 1/3 were our GED students) gained a greater knowledge of the ASEAN Region and improved their critical thinking, leadership, and teamwork skills.

Using the design thinking process, participants were divided into teams to develop Community Impact Projects that address environmental issues in their community. Three teams of winners received grants for their Community Impact Projects. One winner group was our GED students, who plan to implement a recycling/waste management program in Mae La Refugee Camp (Thailand's biggest refugee camp where many of our students grew up in). 

For more details about the Youth Conference, please check out our post on our Facebook page. 

 

Volunteering at a Burmese Temple & Celebrating Children's Day (January 2020)

17 of GED students are volunteer teachers, tutoring children (aged 6-12) English, math, and Burmese, at a Burmese temple during weekends. On the Thailand Children's Day (January 11, 2020),  our volunteers took children to visit Central Airport Plaza Mall, Air Force, and the Zoo and organized outdoor activities as well. It was a joyful day of community-bonding and teamwork-building for all community members. 

 

Community Dinner (Febuary 2020)

In February, BEAM will organize a community dinner to celebrate the New Year as well as the hardwork of GED teachers and students. Students will share music and performances from their cultures. 

 

Participating in a Program of George Washington University (GWU) (March 2020)

During a project-based study abroad course this spring semester, students from GWU’s Elliott School of International Affairs work directly with BEAM to complete a consultancy project over their spring break in March 2020. Throughout the program, GWU students engage in all of the steps necessary to design and implement a consultancy project for BEAM students and staff.

One group of GWU students will be the Education/Pedagogy Group, which will prepare multiple sessions to help GED students increase their academic capacities in preparation for the GED. This group will also prepare materials for other GWU students in the class to prepare them to tutor BEAM students.  Another group of GWU students will lead a Peace Building and Conflict Resolution workshop for both BEAM staff and students. We are excited to welcome the GWU team in March; we will share updates with you in a future report. 

BEAM students presenting at the Youth Conference
BEAM students presenting at the Youth Conference
A team-building activity at Youth Conference
A team-building activity at Youth Conference
BEAM volunteers with children on Children's Day
BEAM volunteers with children on Children's Day
BEAM volunteers at a zoo on Children's Day
BEAM volunteers at a zoo on Children's Day
Volunteers' outdoor activity at Burmese temple
Volunteers' outdoor activity at Burmese temple

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BEAM & Maejo students exchanging Thai at Maejo
BEAM & Maejo students exchanging Thai at Maejo


Dear all, 

Hope all is well! It is the middle of the second semester at the GED program of BEAM, and our students and teachers have finished many academic and extracurricular activities. We would like to share some updates here. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, etc. Thank you very much for your time, interest, and support! 

 

1. BEAM Background 

BEAM Education Foundation (BEAM) was founded in January 2010 as a registered non-profit educational foundation to respond to rising educational needs of migrants and refugee youth living in Thailand, most of who are from Myanmar. Currently, Thailand is hosting about 3 million migrants from Myanmar, which comprise 4-5% of the total population of Thailand, with a much higher proportion found in northern cities like Chiang Mai. This population makes significant contributions to the Thai economy by working in agricultural, industrial, and service sectors. 65 percent of this population is between the ages of 18 to 25, and they are mostly from rural communities of Myanmar. Due to their status as migrant workers, which is oftentimes a tenuous legal status, there are many barriers for migrants to access to social services including education. 

BEAM envisions local, people-oriented, peaceful, and developed communities in Myanmar and Thailand, which can be sustained by empowering local communities through comprehensive education. In past 8 years, BEAM experienced and proved that migrant youth are highly potential to be leaders for bringing positive change in communities along border areas in where people are more marginalized and received limited opportunities for development.

 

2. GED Program for Higher Education

BEAM has implemented the GED Program as part of the Higher Education Preparation and Community Young Leaders Development Program. This program is designed to provide migrants and border youth with a classroom for pursuing accredited education, professional development training, research training, internship and community impact projects, and an ASEAN youth network. BEAM has seven years of experience in training youth for pursuing higher education, professional development, building professional networks, and empowering them to engage in community service. 

The GED (General Education Development) program, an American-based and internationally recognized non-formal high school diploma course, allows students without a formal education background to receive an official high school diploma which is required for accessing tertiary education. All courses are taught by native English speakers to effectively prepare students for their exams. There are four test subjects: Reasoning through Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, and Science.

 

3. Teaching Activities

The second semester at BEAM's GED program runs from September 9th to December 19th. BEAM’s curriculum has been using a student-centered teaching approach with connected topics covered in class to real world situations, as this is important for the students’ overall comprehension and retention. This also gives students not just a theoretical understanding of each lesson, but also knowledge of its practical application. All teachers give homework assignments and assign projects to encourage independent study.

BEAM’s GED students demonstrate the basis of a democratic environment where participants co-operate, respect each other, work together, look for and provide support in the learning process, establish rules of behavior, and continuously work to improve themselves and their learning community. Teachers and students are encouraged to try out strategies that promote democratic behavior in safe spaces.

The GED teachers include David Friedberg (Social Studies), David Lucero (Math), Alan Tin-Win (Science), Charles Turner (Social Studies), and Lulu Zhou (Reasoning through Language Arts). There are also extra support classes taught by volunteers from Chiang Mai International Rotary, such as English classes and public speaking and debate classes. Teachers bring the acquisition of knowledge about different countries and cultures around the world, thus fostering cross-cultural exchange and international peace and understanding. 

This semester, Daniel Mitterhoff (Professor of Social Sciences at Khon Kaen University) started teaching a college-prep class called “Mekon Region History, Politics and Society,” in which students learn more about their home region as well as advanced English. In this class, students will write a 7-10 page paper about a specific topic in the Southeast Asia region (categories include traditions, languages, religions, environment, education, etc)

 

3. Extracurricular Activities

 

Participation in the Thai Language and Culture Exchange Project with Maejo University

The Thai Language and Culture Exchange project is part of BEAM’s Culture, Home, Abroad, and Transition (C.H.A.T.) Program. It aims to promote social cohesion among multicultural communities in Chiang Mai by increasing awareness of diverse cultures and communications between Thai and Non-Thai communities. A few of our GED students participated in the project, in which students from Maejo University taught Thai to BEAM students. The activities took place at both Maejo University and BEAM. Collaboratively, students exchanged cultures, ideas and friendships.

 

Visit at EarthRights International

In early October, Lulu Zhou (language arts teacher) and half of GED students visited EarthRights International’s office, in which students of the EarthRights School presented field research about environmental issues in the Southeast Asian region. EarthRights International is an international NGO that focuses on the power of law and the power of people in defense of Earth rights. Our students participated as an active, engaged audience and learned about the importance of local empowerment and leadership with regard to environmental issues. Students of the EarthRights School are role models for BEAM students, who aspire to contribute to community development as community leaders of the future.  

 

Visit at Three Kings Monument and Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre

In mid-October, Linda (an extra-class English teacher), Lulu and half of GED students visited the museum to learn more about Chiang Mai’s history as part of students’ activity in Linda’s class. Students wrote reflections and shared presentations about their learning afterward. One of the most famous attractions in Chiang Mai, the Three Kings Monument shows the three Kings (King Mengrai, the founder of Chiang Mai; King Ramkamhaeng of Sukothai; and King Ngam Muang of Payao) in bronze; they were the monarchs who founded the city of Chiang Mai in 1296.

 

Participation in BEAM’s 2019 Youth Conference 

The BEAM/JUMP! Youth Leadership Program "Youth Action and Green Action" is a three-day (Nov 1-3, 2019) project, which aims to provide a space for Thai national, Thai ethnic, and Myanmar youth to work together and collaborate on tackling environmental issues. Participants will gain greater knowledge of the ASEAN Region as well as improve their critical thinking, leadership, and teamwork skills. A majority of the GED students will participate in this conference. Facilitators of the conference include both our GED alumni and current students. We will share the updates of the Youth Conference next time, but here is the link to last year's Youth Conference for your reference.

 

 

Students at the Three Kings Monument
Students at the Three Kings Monument
Students at EarthRights International
Students at EarthRights International
Alan teaching in GED science class
Alan teaching in GED science class
Lulu teaching "theme" in GED English class
Lulu teaching "theme" in GED English class
BEAM & Maejo students exchanging Thai at BEAM
BEAM & Maejo students exchanging Thai at BEAM

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Organization Information

BEAM Education Foundation

Location: Chiang Mai - Thailand
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Kyaw Kyaw Min Htut
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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