Wednesday 10 October 2012

Beyond Burma: Lessons in hope for refugee children

An estimated three million Burmese citizens were in exile during the dictatorship, the vast majority slaving as undocumented migrant workers in Thailand and throughout South East Asia.

Around 350,000 Burmese fled to the Mae Sot border city area, where most lived in sprawling refugee camps and struggle to feed, clothe and educate their children.

The Mae Sot region has around 70 migrant schools that  spontaneously started to meet the needs of the 30,000 children who have crossed the border from Burma. The students are a mix of refugees and economic migrants. Of this number only 7000 are currently attending these schools. The schools range in size from 20 to over 650 students. These schools receive no support from the Thai government and rely solely on resourcefulness and international support.

Founded in 1999 by head teacher U Khaing Oo Maung, the Boarding High School for Orphans and Helpless Youths  has been famous for offering a good education.

The spirit and enthusiasm for learning and teaching amongst the children and staff are truly inspirational. And a number of the schools graduates go on to universities in Australia, Canada, Germany and Thailand, through United Nations scholarships and education programmes.

For these children what little the school can give means a lot.

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