Schools in Orchards for Shan Migrants

Hidden in the fruit orchards of Northern Thailand are hundreds of thousands of Shan migrants who have fled violence and abject poverty in Myanmar. Most have entered the country illegally and many have no documentation at all, making them fearful to access social welfare services.

Our partner, Group for Children, offers primary and secondary education to over three hundred children and adults, helps secure legal documents such as birth certificates, ID cards, and school diplomas, and assists this migrant community in accessing their rights.

Gaining Entrance into the Commmunity

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Students at a plantation school in Thailand

In order to provide assistance to the migrant workers and their children, Group for Children first built relationships with plantation owners. After months of meetings, four plantations opened their gates. A top priority was ensuring the children had access to proper education, and the plantation owners provided land and even school buildings to help make this a reality.

The parents were initially hesitant to trust outsiders with their children, but Group for Children’s steady and persistent messages about the importance of education eventually gained the parents’ support. Group for Children now operates four learning centers, teaching over three hundred children and adults. Recently, an arrangement was made with the Thai government so the education provided at the learning centers is nationally accredited.

Group for Children’s Successes

Chickens raised by students as part of a self-sufficient economy project.

Students raise chickens as part of a self-sufficient economy project.

With Partners Asia seed money, a self-sufficient animal husbandry project has been established in which students raise chickens, pigs, ducks, and fish at school for both income and sustenance. For example the chickens provide 80 – 90 eggs a day, helping improve the nutrition of the students.

Group for Children is also helping parents obtain legal documentation for their children. Many of the students were assumed Stateless when they arrived, with no birth certificate or ID of any kind. Through our partners’ tireless advocacy and technical support, most of the students have received legal documentation and some of those born in Thailand are applying for Thai citizenship.

Dedicated teachers are invaluable to their students’ growth. Some of the staff even commute to larger cities on the weekend to further their own education.

By networking with the Thai government, Group for Children now receives additional financial support from the State, and many children who study at the learning centers have the opportunity pursue higher education. Partner’s Asia’s support is made possible by funding from The John P. Hussman Foundation. We are proud to call Group for Children our partners, and are inspired by what they have built!