Myanmar migrant kids left without teachers
Labour and security officials are working together to get young Myanmar children back into education after their learning centres were forced to close in Ranong, Labour Minister MR Chatu Mongol Sonakul said.
The minister was speaking after meeting Myanmar's ambassador U Myo Myint Than at the ministry on Tuesday.
The ambassador voiced concern that the centres had ceased operating after 32 Myanmar teachers were deported on Aug 26.
The Myanmar nationals -- 31 of whom held immigration clearance papers and one a passport -- were teaching at 10 learning centres in Ranong without a licence.
They reportedly applied and were registered to work as migrant workers. However, they took up paid teaching jobs instead, breaching the labour law.
MR Chatu Mongol said the 32 teachers were charged, fined 5,000 baht each and then deported. The deportation left the centres with no one to run them, forcing them to close.
The labour minister said the ambassador was worried that the Myanmar children's education would suffer.
The centres teach small children of migrant workers how to read and write in Burmese, Thai and English. The courses conform to Myanmar's academic curriculum because the children will eventually return home. For that reason, Myanmar teachers were hired.
The first learning centre in Ranong opened in 2006. Currently, 10 centres are supposed to be teaching about 3,000 Myanmar children, while their parents are at work.
MR Chatu Mongol said the ministry will consult with security authorities and find a solution.
"Thailand needs migrant workers, many of whom have children to take care of. We have to care for their children, too, and it is essential that we provide them with a basic education," he said.
One possible solution is to employ Myanmar teachers specifically for the centres. If this happens, similar measures might have to be applied at centres in other provinces with large numbers of migrant workers.
U Myo Myint Than said the centres should continue to teach and operate without legal hindrances. The schooling children there get will make a big difference to their lives, he said.
A source working for a non-governmental organisation working closely with the centres said that although the Myanmar teachers each received a wage of 5,000 baht per month, the pay was deemed "meagre" considering that the minimum daily wage in Ranong is 310 baht.
"The pay was so low it made the teachers look like they were volunteers," the source said.
The source said an education would give the children better prospects when they grew up, reducing the risk of them being exploited by human traffickers.
The centres need help from the government to resume classes, the source added.