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MOE IS PAVING ITS WAY FOR REFUGEE CHILDREN TO STUDY IN THAI SCHOOL

          Miss. Diana (Di) Chungjintanakarn, the first Thai refugee ambassador and Mr. Veerawit Tianchainan, Country Director of US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) Thailand pay their visit to make a discussion with Deputy Education Minister, Mr. Chaiwut Bannawat educational policy to allow the refugee children to access into Thai educational system. Mr. Chaiwut said, Royal Thai government (RTG) has provided supports and operation following the agreement of the Cabinet based on the humanitarian in giving equal opportunity for all children in Thai kingdom to access Thai educational system. In fact, some of the children are not able to access into Thai educational system; those are the children who need to migrate from places to places with their parents, the stateless children and the refugee children who are residing in 9 refugee camps along Thai-Burmese boarders of 4 provinces; those are Tak, Mae Hongsorn, Ratchaburi and Kanchanaburi. Currently, number of the children in the refugee camps is around more than 60,000 people.
          Mr. Chaiwut said, “MOE is setting up the operational systems for the learning centers inside the refugee camps or “temporary shelters”. Those learning centers have been set up by the NGOs in order to provide education for refugee children particularly who are living inside the refugee camps. MOE assigns to Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) and Office of the Private Education Commission (OPEC) to monitor and upgrade any qualified learning centers to be the private Learning Centers, in order to support the other disadvantage children who are not able to attend Thai schools.
          Previously, Mr. Veerawit, USCRI’s Country Director, had presented the educational models developed by USCRI team to Mr. Chaiwut. This educational model has approached some ideas and alternative solutions regarding the accessibility of the refugee children to Thai educational system. There are two main approaches; firstly MOE should consider improving the curriculum of the learning centers inside the refugee camps to be closed to Thai education standard as after they completed their education here they are able to continue their education outside the camps with Thai students.  Secondly, the refugee children will gain their basic rights to study with Thai children in Thai schools. Referred to this meeting, MOE has shown possibility that the refugee children will be able to study in Thai following the new educational policy that MOE is improving and going to decentralize this policy to all relevant sectors. 
          Miss. Diana said to Mr. Chaiwut that she feels grateful and feel appreciate for the educational policy of MOE, and this can guarantee to her that the refugee children will not end their future inside the camps. Furthermore, USCRI commits to collaborate with MOE to provide any supports to promote MOE’s educational policy or campaign  related to providing equal opportunity to all children in Thai kingdom to access into Thai educational system. Diana also remarks that she is willingly to support MOE in the part of Public relation.
          Additionally, Mr. Chaiwut informed USCRI and Miss. Diana that MOE is drafting regulations for the Prime Minister’s Office and submit to the Cabinet seeks for their consideration and approval. The messages of this regulations focus on permission to allow all children including migrant children, stateless children, the refugee children and the children who have none status, are able to study in Thai schools or learning centers in Thai schools.  “The reasons that MOE requires to draft this regulation to approach to the Cabinet since this issue involves with the national security and we are not able to work alone so MOE has to coordinate its work with Ministry of Interior (MOI), Ministry of Social Development and the Human Security (MSDHS), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). At this moment, this regulation is at the last stage of drafting and correction prior to submit to the cabinet again.”
          In conclusion, Mr. Chaiwut said to USCRI that he also concerns about the livelihood of the communities surrounding the refugee camps as many of them are the hill tribes who has already legally gained their Thai citizenship.  He also asked USCRI to convince the donor countries to consider in improving the livelihood of the community, developing the infrastructure around the community’s areas parallel with providing supports to the refugees in the camps. This will make the better image for the donor countries to the community as well as reduce the conflict between local people in the communities and the refugees.  
          Should you require further information please contact Kasinee Silapee, the Senior Communication Officer, USCRI Thailand.

          Tel: 02 354 9362; Fax/Tel:  02 640 9025
          Email: ksilapee@gmail.com / ksilapee@uscrithailand.org
          Website: www.uscrithailand.org.