Help Migrant Teachers Teach Out-of-School Children

by BEAM Education Foundation
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Help Migrant Teachers Teach Out-of-School Children
Help Migrant Teachers Teach Out-of-School Children
Help Migrant Teachers Teach Out-of-School Children
Help Migrant Teachers Teach Out-of-School Children
Help Migrant Teachers Teach Out-of-School Children
Help Migrant Teachers Teach Out-of-School Children
Help Migrant Teachers Teach Out-of-School Children
Help Migrant Teachers Teach Out-of-School Children
Help Migrant Teachers Teach Out-of-School Children
School Reopening Plan assessment at Nam Tok MLC
School Reopening Plan assessment at Nam Tok MLC

I. Main Challenges

Documentation and Security: Documentation remains a widespread challenge for the migrant community, especially for migrant teachers working at Migrant Learning Centers (MLCs). According to the Bridge Participatory Action Research on the Future of Migrant Education in Thailand, as of November 2019, only 35% of migrant teachers have a legal document such as ten years card or work permit by different types of ID. Also, 74% of MLC teachers hold Migrant Educational Coordination Center (MECC) cards. MECC is an organization under the Tak Primary Education Service Area Office 2 (Tak PESAO 2), which leads coordination between MLCs, NGOs, CBOs, and Government parties. All Migrant learning Centers in Tak province have to register under MECC. Then, to get a MECC card, the teacher must have a BMTA member card. Likewise, 41 MLCs are BMTA partner schools, and over 300 teachers are BMTA member teachers and hold BMTA cards and MECC cards. These cards provide teachers some safety, but it is not a legally recognized form of identity. It is not an option for someone from Myanmar to obtain a legal work permit as a teacher. This obstacle and many other documentation challenges make the life of a teacher at Migrant Learning Centers full of uncertainty and risk. Most of the Migrant teachers who live and work at Tak Province were arrested by local police and fined 3,000THB.

Teacher Support: Continued financial support for MLC teachers is still needed. Also, without qualified teachers, we cannot provide quality education to our migrant community.

MLCs Operation Support: Due to the prolonged closure of MLCs, most of the MLCs lack funding to support school operation costs. Finally, there is a gap between donors and MLCs as both need to collaborate, understand the challenging situation, and provide sustainable solutions.

 

II. Activities carried out in the last 6 month

Support for teachers’ pink card

BMTA is tirelessly working for migrant teachers and migrant education during the Covid-19 pandemic. Starting December 17, 2021, BMTA worked closely with Suwannimit Foundation to provide legal documents to migrant teachers under BMTA. Due to financial limitations, BMTA could only cover half of the cost of the pink card for 26 migrant teachers from our partner schools. However, the process is ongoing, and the paper given by the Thai Labor Office is used by teachers when they travel around Mae Sot until they have the Pink Card. Once migrant teachers get the Pink Card, they can feel safe from arrest and fines.

Assessment for School Reopening Plan

During the reporting period of December 2021 and January 2022, we conducted an assessment of 38 Migrant Learning Centers regarding the school reopening plan. We identified and assessed the needs and the areas that require support for the reopening of the schools. After the assessment, we conducted data analysis.

COVID-19 Vaccination for schools

As mentioned in our previous report, we successfully collaborated with our educational and health partners to provide COVID-19 vaccines for approximately 100 teachers and 300 students from 30 Migrant Learning Centers who work with us. Additionally, we distributed masks and hand gel to our 30 partner Migrant Learning Centers.

Child Safeguarding Project

BMTA collaborates with other educational and child protection partners in the Child Safeguarding project of Mae Tao Clinic, which aims to provide child safeguarding knowledge to the migrant learning centers, create a safe space for students, and apply Child Safeguarding Policy. We have conducted online training with the management team of the Migrant Learning Centers and given a ToT (Training of Teachers) to representatives from our partner organizations who have the potential to become trainers. Our trainer teams have been conducting online training on Child Safeguarding for teachers and staff at every level. Ninety-four teachers and staff from 20 Migrant Learning Centers have received the training during February and March 2022. Ten more MLCs under BMTA are waiting to get their training as well.

 

III.  Planned future activities

Following the need of the Migrant Learning Centers identified after the assessment, we have two main plans for the next reporting period, distribute water sinks for washing hands to 30 migrant learning centers and raise awareness on education. We plan to conduct PTA training for the parents of our students. However, there is a possibility that we might have to modify and adjust our plan due to the COVID-19 situation.

 

IV.  Our recommendation  

According to our assessment result, Migrant Learning Center operation cost is one of the biggest challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic. Documentation and the salary of teachers follow as second challenges. Therefore, to retain and support migrant teachers and MLCs, we need funding and setting a formal process for legal registration and documentation of teachers.

 

BMTA and Suwannimit Foundation are working together for migrant teachers through your fund. By obtaining this document, migrant teachers will not be arrested and fined. Migrant teachers can travel around Mae Sot for Home Base Learning and school visiting activities. However, this ID does not provide them with status as a professional teacher in Thailand.

School Reopening assessment at Naung Bon Dang MLC
School Reopening assessment at Naung Bon Dang MLC
School Reopening assessment at Rocky Mountain MLC
School Reopening assessment at Rocky Mountain MLC
Registration Letter for requesting a Pink Card
Registration Letter for requesting a Pink Card
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Situational Background

During the 2020-2021 academic year, under the instruction of the Burmese Migrant Teacher’s Association (BTMA), 30 Migrant Learning Centers (MLCs) continued providing education to migrant children despite the challenges presented by the pandemic. Migrant teachers and students' families expressed relief that children remained engaged and connected to the MLCs in the midst of COVID-19's challenges.

By collaborating with partner organizations, we were able to support Migrant teachers with dry food support and 4 months of stipend. Recently, we just finished Bridge 2 Migrant Education research. By working with Mae Tao Clinic, we can support MLC boarding with dry food and give child protection program to teachers, student and parent as well.

With the impact of the coup in Myanmar and the economic challenges of COVID-19, migrant families struggle to pay for necessities like housing, food, medical care, and education for their children. As a result, Migrant Learning Centers receive less support from the students’ families to provide school operating costs and teacher stipends. Keeping classroom lights on and retaining teachers are crucial to prevent migrant children from dropping out of school.

Currently, MLCs are planning for the upcoming academic year. It remains clear that COVID-19 and the Myanmar military coup will continue to impact migrant education in 2021-22. Educational organizations are working through our networks to support needs such as PPE, building renovations, and other needed learning resources.

The greatest funding challenge remains the most necessary: the support of teachers' invaluable service to their communities and the basic operational costs of keeping schools open. The future of migrant education stands at a critical juncture with the heavy impacts of COVID-19.

In addition to teacher’s salaries, MLCs highlighted the following operational needs: rent, running costs, and transportation. Education for the general public is most often supported by governments, but for migrants who have limited resources and knowledge of educational policies, there is no governmental support. In the wake of COVID-19, this discrepancy needs a sustainable solution.

Future Activities

For the upcoming academic year, BMTA MLCs are working to meet all Thai COVID-19 regulations for reopening. To be considered for reopening, MLC headmasters are currently meeting with community leaders and local health officials to request formal recommendation letters. Parents and students are concerned that MLCs will be affected by the pandemic and vaccination distributions.

To prevent student dropout, it is critical that MLCs reopen. Evidence shows that students are safer in schools: going to school regularly helps prevent early pregnancy, drug use, and domestic abuse. COVID-19 has heavily impacted MLCs, especially in regards to teacher stipends and school running costs.

In asking MLCs what they need to reopen, they highlighted the following:

  1. Teacher support: Sustained financial support for MLC teachers is needed.

Teachers are the foundation of quality education. For stable schools and student retention, it is vital to support teachers, both professionally and financially.

  1. Operations support: MLCs need support for basic infrastructure like rent, running costs and transportation.

Education for the general public is most often supported by governments, but for migrants who have limited resources and knowledge of educational policies, there is little to no governmental support. Especially in the wake of COVID-19, MLCs and teachers need help to fill this gap.

With your funding, BMTA believes we can support the reopening costs for 13 Migrant Learning Centers as well as building renovations, land and rent costs, and transportation. The future of migrant education stands at a critical juncture with the heavy impacts of COVID-19. Thank you for your consideration as we work to keep Myanmar migrants in school.

Migrant teacher conducting online class
Migrant teacher conducting online class
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Dear Reader and supporter!

Earlier this year, BEAM launched a project to raise support for migrant teachers. Through this project, 20 migrant teachers who are currently receiving about $50 as salary per month would receive adequate remuneration to cater for their living expenses, including the provision of basic protection. A 7-day training program will be organized twice a year to enhance the capacity and growth of the teachers, including access to information technology resources. Better housing arrangements will also be implemented for their safety and security. The project is in three phases with the goal to raise $40,000 for each phase, funding 60 teachers in total (20 teachers per phase). 

Currently there are around 700 teachers in 70 migrant learning centers (MLCs) in Thailand that work with inadequate resources. They have fewer training opportunities and are underpaid if you compare to teachers in schools around Thailand. Still these teachers keep doing their valuable work to ensure that migrant and refugee children are not left uneducated. 

The greatest long-term impact of this project is the opportunity it provides for migrant teachers to provide quality education to migrant children. Education that prepares the children to positively contribute to their society. Since BEAM has not yet secured full funding for the project, the first phase has not yet been launched, however the 20 teachers have been identified, as well as 12 others for the second phase.  In this report you can read about why they became teachers and why they continue to be migrant teachers, despite the difficult working conditions. 

The teachers 

BEAM conducted interviews with 32 migrant teachers to see why they chose to be a migrant teacher and what their biggest struggles are. To protect the teachers, no names will be used in this report. All of the teachers identified by BEAM have a true passion for teaching, and love sharing their knowledge. One teacher stated “I choose to become a teacher because I want to share my knowledge with the new generation and they can share it with their new generation again.”  One of the other teachers said “Most migrant workers cannot write and read when they face problems. So I chose to become a teacher for their children.”  

This is very powerful, that despite knowing the difficult working conditions and the low reward, the teachers chose to teach migrant children. One teacher answered “If migrant children are not educated, they are in a greater risk from human trafficking, being abused and they can be in a dangerous situation.” This shows that the teachers have a deep understanding of the struggles of migrant families and children and they want to help as much as they can, despite that they put themselves at risk. 

“My future goal is to do my best, whatever I can do for migrant children and their bright future. However, as a migrant teacher the biggest challenge is about safety and security, staying here in Thailand. The second challenge will be after retirement, what is the future of migrant teachers?.”

The low income is a big challenge for many of the teachers as they cannot support their own families. They also often lack safe places to live, as well as little resources to teach the children. One teacher expressed “We need support for survival (food), health care, safety, salary and other support for migrant teachers. Due to the pandemic, we are facing funding cut and the situation leads to reducing teachers' salaries.”

Your support

Access to quality education is part of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and is one of the most important tools to break the cycle of poverty and prevent exploitation of the most vulnerable. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, protecting and ensuring access to education for vulnerable communities has become even more important than ever before. The United Nations (UN) estimates that more than 1 billion children are at risk of falling behind due to school closures and reduced livelihoods, whilst, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the pandemic has caused economic and social disruption that puts tens of millions of people at risk of falling into extreme poverty, decreasing food security and causing widespread undernourishment.

With your support for the this project, we can ensure that the teachers get better education and resources, a proper living wage and safe housing. With this support, teachers will be able to help more migrant children and provide a better education for them too. You can make the difference and provide a chance for a quality life for migrants in Thailand!

Thank you for your great support of BEAM and of Migrant Teachers in Thailand.

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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
$3,032 raised of $40,000 goal
 
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