- In 2016, operating 9 schools (six schools providing basic literacy skills and 3 nurseries) with the collaboration of the Shan community along the Thai-Shan border; including providing teachers’ salaries
- Provided 163 scholarships in the 2015-16 school year for children and youths to attend secondary schools and universities in Thailand
- Assistance targeted towards the education of children whose lives have been directly affected by HIV/AIDS by either having parents with the infection, or being infected themselves
- Creating and distributing Shan language text books to refugee and displaced children
- Organising professional development training and networking meetings for our teachers
- Holding annual Shan Summer Literacy Classes: language and culture for children, increasing cultural connections, building social capital
- Operating 3 boarding houses on both sides of the border to facilitate the children of parents made single by war, illness or domestic violence to attend school so the parent can work, and return home in the holidays: we feed the children, clothe and house, provide them with everything they need for school and their personal lives, and their transport. This is also where we provide support to a small number of legitimate orphans to ensure they remain in the education system and are not exploited or homeless.
Shan refugees fleeing from civil war and ongoing human rights abuses are not recognised as “refugees” in Thailand. They are thus being denied safe refuge and assistance from international aid agencies. Most vulnerable in this situation are the children. As their parents are forced to find work as migrant labourers, often illegally, many of the children end up receiving no schooling whatsoever.
Technically, all children in Thailand have the right to attend Thai schools. However, there are many difficulties people from Shan State are experiencing when trying to access them. Parents doing the “3Ds” jobs (Dirty, Difficult and Dangerous) are paid so little that sending children to Thai schools is beyond their means. Parents are often on the move due to the irregularity of work. Also, having illegal status, and confined to the workplace, parents are afraid to leave their work-sites to arrange schooling, fearing arrest. Even if children manage to attend schools, there is a risk to young girls whilst travelling to and from school of being abducted and trafficked. In addition to all these factors, Thai schools teach in Thai only, which Shan children usually do not speak. The Shan refugee community has strongly expressed wishes to preserve their language and identity for when all Shan people return home to Shan State once peace and justice has been achieved. In response to this, the Shan community along the Thai-Shan State border originally organised basic literacy classes to meet the needs of displaced children. SWAN has since set up educational programs to strengthen the capacity of existing informal educational activities and in partnership with communities there. We employ Thai schooling curriculum and have become part of the Thai education system for recognised accreditation for our students.
Up until the end of 2015, SWAN’s Education Program also extended into Shan State however these 2 nursery schools are no longer able to be budgeted for until. This is a loss for these students and their families and we would like very much to rectify this but it is a matter of funding. Our data shows that when a child attends nursery school they are much more likely to continue on past primary school and gain at least a partial secondary education. For this reason we are committed to re-opening theses schools if we can secure a funding partnership which will allow us to do so.
We also aspire to expand SWAN’s scholarship program. In the last school year we have aided 163 enrolments at the secondary and university level for students in extenuating circumstances, including those from families affected by HIV/AIDS; but there are more than we can currently help. SWAN’s Education Program scholarships are currently more limited than we intend; we seek more funding to ensure that all young people from Shan State can access secondary and higher education to fulfil their potential, regardless of their families’ means.