65.7% progress
$6,050 still needed

The Challenge

Banklothor (also known as Bankhloto) Public School in Northern Thailand, and Umphang Public School required a qualified English teacher to provide professional skill development for local teaching staff and teach students from the Nu Po refugee camp and surrounding villages. 

Umphang is a mountainous district of Thailand on the Thai/Myanmar border. The opportunities for quality and comprehensive education are limited in the border region, especially for those in the neighbouring Nu Po refugee camp. This role will support greater equity in access to education for two schools in the region, better enabling all students to pursue higher education and employment opportunities.

Many international organisations and donors have withdrawn funding for community organisations along the border as priorities have shifted towards repatriation of the Karen to Myanmar.  Activists from the border region have argued that the prioritisation of repatriation places ethnic minorities at risk as domestic peace talks fail to protect these communities.  A Voluntary Repatriation Centre (VRC) opened in Mae La refugee camp in November 2018. Of the 36,000 people currently resident at the camp, it is reported just 18 presented at the Centre for an interview in order to return to Myanmar.

“Since 2014, education, health, and social aids including food supplies and aids for camp management have been significantly reduced for the refugees living in nine Burmese refugee camps along Thai-Burma border. International aids have also been cut for the local IDPs since 2017, according to the people who have been assisting the refugees and IDPs.” – Karennews.org

This social and political situation is exacerbated by occasional natural disasters affecting the border region, including landslides and flooding.

How We’re Helping

To meet this challenge and address the project objectives, Fr Reynaldo the staff at Bankhlotor and Umphang Public Schools requested a qualified and experienced English teacher. In January 2020 Palms recruited Liz O’Sullivan, a highly experienced teacher from St Mary’s School, Bundaberg, to join the staff in Umphang to assist local Thai and Karen teachers in developing English basic proficiency (phonics, grammar and conversation), global citizenship awareness through teaching, and specific outdoor activities (scouts and English camps). These objectives will be achievable through coordination with available teachers every semester.

In addition, teachers will develop improved self-confidence in their English language proficiency, self-motivation, openness to new ideas and education methodologies, and classroom responsibility.

Classes include Thai, Karen and Mon students from the area.


Is the Project Sustainable?

This project will offer two years of professional development assistance to Thai teachers. The extended project cycle enables Liz and her colleagues to assess the strengths of the faculty, the resources available, and the challenges faced by Bankhlotor school, and to implement informed and long-lasting strategies for improvement.

This is one of several teacher training projects being implemented by Palms on the Thai-Myanmar border. Opportunities for collaboration and mutual development will strengthen long-term sustainability of education development in each school.

Feature Image: Liz and Year 3 English Class, Banklothor School

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