Making education for refugee children count on the Thai-Myanmar border
Save the Children is working in refugee camps on the Thai-Myanmar border to make education for refugee children count. We are working across nine camps to improve the quality of education for children. We are also working to ensure the education and professional development received by refugee teachers is recognised in Myanmar as communities return home.
Why education for refugee children is important
Along the Thai-Myanmar border, stretching north to south, are nine refugee camps mostly populated by Karen and Karenni refugees who started to flee Myanmar in the 1980s. It’s one of the world’s most protracted refugee crises. More than 100,000 refugees remain living in border camps, and most children were born there.
Schooling for refugee children is one of the biggest challenges in a humanitarian crisis. Yet without an education, children face an uncertain future – especially adapting to life after a refugee camp.
For Karen and Karenni children living on the Thai-Myanmar border, this uncertainty is exacerbated by the fact that education and teacher professional development for refugee communities is not officially recognised by the governments in Myanmar or Thailand. Now, as refugees start to return home to Myanmar, they are increasingly concerned about what this means for future education and employment opportunities.
Save the Children’s PREPS program
We believe we can find a way to give Karen and Karenni children the quality basic education they deserve, and enable this achievement to be recognised and reintegrated into their home communities in Myanmar.
Our PREPS program – Preparing for Reintegration through Education and Participative Solutions – supports school-age children in the camps to access basic education and trains camp teachers to teach the Karen and Karenni curriculum using child-centred teaching and learning practices.
We are working with teachers to build their portfolios and prepare them for job opportunities when they return. We are preparing children for the transfer to community or government schools in Myanmar by documenting their prior learning and teaching Burmese so they can adjust to the new curriculum more easily.
We are also advocating for the recognition of students’ academic achievements, and accreditation of teachers skills and knowledge, as more refugees are repatriated to Myanmar.
School gives refugee children a greater say in their lives
Umphiem Camp, on the Thai-Myanmar border, is where Paw Htoo has grown up. Now in grade 9, she loves school so much, she studies whenever she gets the chance.
Photographer: Egan Hwan/Save the Children
I like school a lot. English is my favourite subject in school since kindergarten,
says Paw Htoo*.
During my free time I like to read my textbooks and do my homework and attend special classes like cooking and learning to use the computer.
But Paw Htoo also knows that although she loves school, this doesn't mean it’s easy for her to continue her education, or that it will even mean anything if she has to move to Myanmar.
Growing up in a refugee camp can be one of the biggest barriers to a good education for both girls and boys. When you have an uncertain future, learning can easily be sidelined. Many children her age drop out. Girls, just like her, are encouraged not to continue studying.
Helping children like Paw Htoo stay in school and making their achievements mean something is one of the best ways we can help children from refugee communities have a greater say in their lives.
How we know we're making a difference
Since the program started in 2013, we’ve trained more than 1,000 teachers and given approximately 30,000 refugee children in 65 camp schools a basic quality education every year.
We continue to advocate for education and teacher professional development to be recognised by governments in Myanmar and Thailand, and for children to be easily included in the government school system when they return to Myanmar.
Who made our program possible
This program is funded by the Australian Government. Through the government’s overseas aid program, Australians are providing children and their families living on the Thai-Myanmar border with the chance to achieve a brighter future. Find out more about how Australian Aid is changing lives here.
*Name has been changed.
Banner image: Egan Hwan/Save the Children
An Australian aid initiative implemented by Save the Children on behalf of the Australian Government.