Probe into relocation of ethnic kids
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Probe into relocation of ethnic kids

Ministry asks if move was to boost funds

ANG THONG: The Ministry of Education has ordered a committee to probe claims that 130 ethnic children were relocated from a Thai-Myanmar border town to a school in Ang Thong's Pa Mok district against their will.

Local complaints were filed to authorities that a large group of ethnic children have enrolled in Thairath Wittaya 6 School, which has only two teachers, one director and one administrative staff member, said Ang Thong governor Rangsan Tancharoen.

The school holds classes from kindergarten to primary school, or grades 1-6.

The ministry is concerned about whether the children were lured to the school so that it would get financial support from the government and the private sector, Mr Rangsan said.

The committee will investigate the school director's intentions, he said, adding that police have already questioned the admin staff member and the two teachers.

Pol Col Sakchai Kraiweeradechachai, superintendent of Pa Mok station, said police found that none of the 137 students were Thai.

Police said seven students are children of Cambodian migrant workers who have legal registration to work in the area not far from the school, while another 130 kids must undergo proof of nationality, said Pol Col Sakchai.

He said the 130 children could not speak the Thai language.

The ethnic children were moved from the school to Wat Sa Kaeo Orphan Aid Centre on Wednesday to await screening and find out if they are victims of human trafficking, he said.

Many children told an interpreter they were taken from an Akha village on Doi Mae Salong in Chiang Rai province, a hill separating Thailand and Myanmar.

During the interview, one Akha girl reportedly cried that she missed her parents and her home in the North. She said a group of strangers had picked her up from the village and taken other kids to Ang Thong against their will.

School director Kanlaya Tasom has refused to talk to the media.

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