Save the Children Educates Children
By Songporn Bea Leelakitichok
In partnership with Educate A Child (EAC), Save the Children is implementing the Assisting Conflict-Affected Children Enroll and Stay in School (ACCESS) Project in Eastern Myanmar and Thailand. The project seeks to provide access to quality primary education for out of school children affected by the protracted conflict in Myanmar.
For the approximately 377,000 migrant, 30,000 refugee, and more than 400,000 ethnic Karen children in Thailand and Myanmar, many barriers stand in the way of a quality basic education such as language, cost, and lack of both parent and school administrator awareness. Save the Children is working to ensure access to basic education services for these children by stimulating demand for education as well as increasing supply and quality of education services.
Through the Save the Children’s ACCESS project, over 84,000 out of school children in Thailand-Myanmar border will have the opportunity to complete a full quality basic education. The ACCESS project will increase access to education by providing financial support to families to offset direct and opportunity costs in accessing education; pre- and in-service teacher training; teacher salary subsidies; learning materials and school supplies for vulnerable students; and training for school system managers and leaders.
The Educate A Child programme was launched by Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser in 2012. Housed under the Education Above All Foundation, the EAC programme aims to provide out-of-school children with an opportunity to access and achieve a quality primary education.
So far, results of the partnership efforts in Thailand have been promising. Save the Children works with local and international partners to reach parents, school staff, students, and the wider community. ACCESS partners conduct outreach sessions with parents to identify out-of-school students and raise awareness on the importance of education. Partners also offer transition programmes such as kids clubs to get children back into school, and deliver materials, scholarships and school supplies to ensure vulnerable children have what they need to succeed. Save the Children also recognizes that it is not enough to enroll children in school, but good teaching and school management ensures that they are learning and makes it more likely that they will stay in school. ACCESS partners provide comprehensive teacher training and support schools in refugee camps and conflict-affected areas of Myanmar with teacher stipends, which are then matched by community contributions.
In 2014, the first year of the project, Save the Children helped enroll 17,291 children in primary schools through the ACCESS project. At the same time, 1,261 teachers have received training (in-service and pre-service) on various topics to improve the quality of their instruction, school management, and student retention. The Quality Learning Environment analysis tool, which guides school management and communities in assessing the physical and services standards, has been adapted to the refugee, migrant, and Myanmar contexts and applied in over 620 schools. Save the Children and partners have developed a database covering over 1,250 schools and over 100,000 students in Myanmar that will be used to track Quality Learning Environment standards as well as individual children both those in school and those not yet enrolled.
Save the Children is working towards sustainable education solutions for migrants and refugees through enhanced cooperation, collaboration, networking and policy discussions among relevant stakeholders at all levels. Over the next two years, the ACCESS project will help trigger the replication of similar initiatives among other ethnic minority populations in Thailand, directly advancing EAC’s mission of achieving wider breakthroughs in out-of-school children, especially in conflict-affected environments with access to education.