HHN, Rotary Clubs to create ASEAN Education Center for migrant children

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Two area Rotary clubs will join the Human Help Network Foundation Thailand to transform its Pattaya day-care center into the ASEAN Education Center, aimed at schooling children of migrant workers from Cambodia and Myanmar.

Hurray for all the visitors!
Hurray for all the visitors!

Leaders from HHN and Rotary Club of the Eastern Seaboard and Rotary Club of Dolphin International signed the agreement forming the education center June 16 at HHN’s Drop-In Center at the Diana Garden Resort June 16, where they were joined by Sodeung Tong Heung, deputy director of Cambodia’s Provincial Education Youth and Sports Department, representatives of Thai Ministry of Education Social development officials from Cambodia and Myanmar.

The change to the ASEAN Education Center – which will provide both learning and shelter for migrant children – is planned for the third quarter. It will offer assistance to up to 100 children up to age 12.

The children were happy to learn about the new school.
The children were happy to learn about the new school.

“This is a historic day to fight for the plight of underprivileged children,” said Peter Schönherr, community service director for the Rotary Club of the Eastern Seaboard. “We can achieve it, we must achieve is and we shall achieve it.”

Sponsors said the day-care center is being upgraded due to worries that the young children of construction workers, laborers and other migrant workers are not learning their native languages properly while living in Thailand.

Cambodian and Myanmar children pay respect to Sopin Thappajug.
Cambodian and Myanmar children pay respect to Sopin Thappajug.

At the center, the children will follow curriculums designed by the Cambodian Education Ministry and Burmese Migrant Workers’ Education Committee.

“These migrant children will one day return to Myanmar and Cambodia and we want them to return with skills that every child has a right to. The ASEAN Education is just one way that these children can be helped,” said Martin Brands, charter president of the RCEB.

HHNFT Director Radchada Chomjinda and Diana Group MD Sopin Thappajug, along with representatives of the clubs, ministries, and charity organizations signing the MoU.
HHNFT Director Radchada Chomjinda and Diana Group MD Sopin Thappajug, along with representatives of the clubs, ministries, and charity organizations signing the MoU.

“There are approximately 2,000 migrant children in Pattaya and they have a right to education,” said HHN Director Radchada Chomjinda. “The new center can only accommodate 100, but it’s a start.”

Education at the school will be provided by four certified Cambodian and Myanmar teachers, who will be assisted by multilingual supervisors and Thai- and English-speaking volunteers. Classes will be broken into two age groups.

To provide for the establishment of the ASEAN Education Center, the two local Rotary clubs are preparing a sizeable international project in with the Rotary Club of Pijnacker-Nootdorp in the Netherlands to provide a passenger van for daily transportation of the children, as well as initial funding for teacher salaries, educational equipment, textbooks and other materials.

Foreign helpers pick up children from construction camp sites in Jomtien and Pattaya to bring them to the education center.
Foreign helpers pick up children from construction camp sites in Jomtien and Pattaya to bring them to the education center.

The project is based on contributions from the De Vaan Goosen Foundation in the Netherlands and Rotary organizations there and in Thailand. A grant of 3.5 million baht is expected from the Rotary Foundation.

To achieve sustainability of the center, HHN gradually will expand its share of operational expenditures with a goal of being fully self-supporting after three years.

“After the demise of the Sanuk Center due to lack of funding, we have seen that children really wanted to learn, it was their passion that has brought us to create the ASEAN education Center,” Radchada said.

Bo Bo, a Myanmar youth, said he already has been helped by the small educational offering at the current Drop-In Center.

“I learned more knowledge in the Thai language, mathematics, and English language, I also took care of the younger children here at the center,” Bo Bo said, adding that by helping with basic functions at the center “I don’t take only, but also give.”

Sodeung said that children of migrant workers should have the right to study, and get educated, adding he believes the Thai government “should help take responsibility and support these children to have more opportunities for education”.

There are up to 5 million migrant workers in Thailand, of which currently more than 3.5 million have identification and some type of work permit. Most are from Cambodia and Myanmar. Press reports state they are accompanied by 300,000-400,000 children, most under age 12.