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.
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:
- 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.
- 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