It is no secret that education is the key to breaking the poverty cycle, but for some of the most vulnerable members of society, the children of migrant workers, household financial pressures often mean that dreams of higher achievements in life remain out of reach.
While the Thailand government is committed to ensuring all children have access to free education, some estimates put the number of migrant worker children out of school as high as 50 per cent.
A multi-partner pilot programme driven by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) Thailand and involving the Thailand government, Posco, one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates, plus local communications carrier True Corporation, is proving so successful at helping keep the dreams of migrant worker children alive that it is being rolled out to additional locations.
The Learning Coin initiative, implemented through the Foundation for Rural Youth (FRY), utilises a multi-language mobile app, LearnBig, to provide students with access to a range of textbooks and reference sources designed to improve basic literacy and numeracy skills.
The students’ results are stored in a database which teachers can access so that they can provide personal support, and every month the children’s efforts and achievements are analysed to calculate the learning index for each child. Parents receive cash transfers based on the index.
In the video above 14-year-old Pyo Ma Ma Soe, a Myanmar migrant girl, tells of her dream of becoming an oncologist. Initially raised by her grandparents in Myanmar, after they died she moved to Thailand where her parents struggle to make ends meet as contract seamstresses. As a result of the Learning Coin initiative she is completing her primary education and helping to “protect my parents through my education”.
|The Posco 1% Foundation committed to providing Unesco with $900,000 over three years in January 2018. Video 포스코1%나눔재단|
Despite the stresses and challenges, Pyo Ma’s mother, Daw Cho, is determined that her daughter receive the best education possible, saying education will build Pyo Ma’s self-esteem and enable her to have a brighter future. Learning Thai and Burmese will give her the ability to work in either country, she says.
At the FRY, deputy director Yaninee Khamkeeree, explains how the Learning Coin initiative has helped ease the problem of student absenteeism due to household financial stress, while at the same time fulfilling students’ needs of contributing to their household.
The pilot programme has been so successful that Unesco Thailand is expanding the project through the Equitable Education Fund (EEF) in four additional provinces.
In January 2018 South Korean steel giant Posco partnered with Unesco to provide $900,000 over three years to carry out projects in the fields of culture and education though the Posco 1% Foundation. Established in 2013 the Foundation is funded by a one per cent donation from the salary of Posco’s 20,000 employees, affiliate and outsourcing companies, to fund philanthropic projects focusing on local communities, rising generations, green planet issues, diversity, and cultural heritage.
Feature Video Unesco
- Bridging education systems for migrant children in Thailand and Myanmar (UNESCO Bangkok)
- Myanmar’s non-formal learners: Hard work, hard lessons, and hope through education (UNESCO Bangkok)
- Education initiative reaches over 1 million disadvantaged children in Myanmar (ReliefWeb)
Justhine De Guzman Uy
After graduation she worked at the Philippine Broadcasting Service performing transcription and business news writing, before moving to Eagle Broadcasting Corporation where she worked as a news editor, translator and production assistant.
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