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Helping migrant students get credit for learning

Paw Moo is a Burmese refugee living in Phop Phra, Thailand, just over the border from Myanmar. She is the only one of her siblings who attends school, as the others are working to earn money for the family. This is not uncommon in Paw Moo’s community, where over 25% of children are out of school.

Like the majority of children in this area, Paw Moo attends a migrant learning center, established and run by local community members and administered by a Myanmar education partner. Learning centers are the most viable education option for Burmese migrant children, who have difficulty enrolling in formal Thai government-run schools. Most migrants do not speak Thai or understand enrollment procedures, and lack transportation and proper documentation.

While Paw Moo enjoys the learning center curriculum, which is taught in her mother tongue and includes Burmese history and culture, the school is not accredited so she will not able to advance in the Thai or Burmese system (should she one day be able to return home) without starting all over again. Further, because of decreasing funding, the center is at risk of closing in the next academic year. This upsets Paw Moo, who wants to become a teacher one day, and her parents who want to ensure that the only child they are able to send to school can succeed.

Because of the USAID-funded Project for Local Empowerment (PLE), under which World Educationand its local partners help students get and receive formal recognition for a high-quality education, students like Paw Moo now have options. They can study Thai and work toward enrolling in a Thai school through the bridging Non-Formal Education program, or continue to focus on the Myanmar curriculum and take an exam that will allow them to transfer to a school in Myanmar and eventually attend university. 

JSI/WEI Photo Library Photo
JSI/WEI Photo Library Photo
Students prepare for Grade 8 examination to receive recognized certification from Burma.

JSI/WEI Photo Library Photo
JSI/WEI Photo Library Photo
34 students in Phop Para receive their certificates at the opening ceremony of the new academic year.

Now, “even if I have to move to another school, I can change easily because I have an exam certificate. I am very glad and my teachers are proud of me.” Paw Moo says.

Through building the skills and capacity of local organizations, PLE has built a sustainable system to help migrant and displaced children and youth continue their schooling and pursue livelihoods. Meanwhile, partner organizations the Burmese Migrant Workers’ Education Committee and the Migrant Education Coordination Committee will continue to enroll students in non-formal education programs, which now link to accredited that facilitates transition to Burmese and Thai government schools.

Find out more about the work World Education is doing in Myanmar and with refugees.