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Research and Advocacy Resources

Stepping Stones

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Safety Nets: A Situational Analysis of Non-formal Educational Pathways for Migrant Children in Tak Province, Thailand 

For tens of thousands of children from Burma in Thailand, accessing education is filled with challenges. Many migrant families frequently need to move to find work, and many children and youth are required to support their families with household chores, childcare, or paid work. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these challenges. Since the start of the pandemic 1 in 5 migrant children have disappeared from educational records. 

Since 2014, thousands of overage and working children in Tak Province have been given a second chance to earn an education through non-formal educational pathways. Today, 251 learners are enrolled in this educational 'safety net' which provides accredited, accelerated, flexible, inclusive, and practical education in Burmese language to learners who are over-age for their grade level and cannot commit to full-time study. The non-formal education safety net would be well-placed to protect children's right to education in a post-pandemic world.

However, the February 2021 Burmese political crisis has called into question whether non-formal education pathways can continue. This research spoke to 166 non-formal education stakeholders to explore the future of the safety net, and map out recommendations to protect educational pathways for some of the most vulnerable learners in Thailand. 

Improving Protection for Migrant Children

Participatory action research was undertaken to identify and evidence child protection issues experienced by children in migrant communities in Thailand’s Tak Province in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through qualitative responses, interviewed children reported that physical abuse was most frequently occurring risk for children followed by emotional abuse and child labor. It's clear that migrant children are facing manifold challenges. COVID-19 has exposed underlying vulnerabilities in marginalized migrant communities. This report provides actionable recommendations to support comprehensive and community-based approaches needed to ensure educational continuity and the maintenance of child protection mechanisms during this difficult time.

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Education Reimagined: COVID-19 Emergency Response for Migrant Education

For the educators working in Migrant Learning Centers (MLCs) on the Thai-Myanmar border, teaching was already a demanding profession. Resources were already scarce. Uncertainty was already a constant.


Now, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, education as we know it is being redefined. For Education Reimagined, 64 MLC headmasters participated in a rapid assessment focusing on school readiness, home-learning support and safety in response to COVID-19. As part of the assessment, all learning center classrooms were measured to determine student capacity with social distance guidelines. Most MLCs will need to implement a rotating schedule or reallocate students in order to accommodate all students in the 2020-2021 academic year. 


The upcoming academic year will look and feel completely different. New solutions, strategies and support mechanisms will be essential in helping migrant educators to navigate the “new normal” of their classrooms. 

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Bridges: Participatory Action Research on

the Future of Migrant Education in Thailand

It is estimated that of the 350,000 migrant children living in Thailand, over 200,000 are currently out of school (Ministry of Education and Migrant Working Group, 2018). In recent years, powerful strides have been made to ensure migrant children from Myanmar receive a government-recognized education either from the Thai or the Myanmar Ministry of Education. A large-scale participatory action research project was undertaken to identify the perspectives of parents, teachers, educational leaders, and children enrolled in both Thai Formal Government Schools and Migrant Learning Centers. Over 1,700 participants were surveyed ranging from Tak to Ranong province by 26 leaders from 7 organizations supporting education for migrant children. The report provides critical insights from the ground on the future of education for migrant children in Thailand. 

Education Quality Framework:

Documenting Education Quality in Migrant Learning Centers on the Thai-Myanmar Border

The Education Quality Framework (EQF) was developed to provide consistent standards of educational quality in MLCs, through a comprehensive process of consultations and workshops with migrant education stakeholders beginning in 2015. Following a pilot of the tool in the 2016-2017 academic year, the EQF was used to assess systems-level educational quality in 38 MLCs in 2017-2018, 54 MLCs in 2018-2019 and 65 MLCs in 2019-2020.


The EQF assessment tool is available in Myanmar, Thai and English languages and is annually reviewed by both participating MLC headmasters and partner organization staff to ensure continued relevance in the dynamic context of the Thai-Myanmar border. The EQF seeks to identify contextual challenges faced by Migrant Learning Centers and develop solutions to help MLCs mitigate them in the future. Specifically, the EQF focuses on systems-level structures and policies in place within the learning centers.

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Quality Standards in Migrant Learning Centers

The Education Quality Framework (EQF) was developed to provide consistent standards of educational quality in Migrant Learning Centers (MLCs). The EQF was developed through a comprehensive process of consultations and workshops with migrant education stakeholders beginning in November 2015, originally facilitated by World Education Thailand. Following a pilot of the tool in the 2016-2017 academic year, the EQF was implemented in 38 MLCs in 2017-2018 with the support of school headmasters. 

The EQF tool is available in Myanmar language, Thai and English and has been approved by the Royal Thai Government’s Ministry of Education. The EQF specifically focuses on contextual issues faced by migrant learning centers and systems-level structures in place within schools. In the 2017-2018 academic year, Help Without Frontiers Foundation, the Burmese Migrant Teachers’ Association, the Burmese Migrant Workers’ Education Committee and TeacherFOCUS Myanmar worked together to conduct assessments and develop the recommendations in the attached document.  Help Without Frontiers Foundation Thailand Burmese Migrant Workers' Education Committee Migrant Teachers Mecc Tak Pesao II

TeacherFOCUS Research Partners

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