The On-Site Learning Center
We usually have anywhere from 20-35 students from around the city who live in construction camps and have no access to public education because of their illegal refugee status. Our students range is age from 5-50! They are grouped by ability and it works out beautifully.
They have no I.D. card or registration for this country or any other, making them officially “stateless”; they are truly displaced by the turmoil in their own country, Burma and have come to Thailand for more opportunities in the case of the refugees. Many of them and their parents work in the construction industry of Chiang Mai, toiling for 12 hours a day in the tropical heat of Thailand while the children stay at the camp (literally lean-to shacks made from salvaged materials) and take care of each other, including the babies. Some of them; age 10 and up also work, doing small jobs on the construction site to help out.
These children may have a chance to go to a free temple school in the future but not if they do not speak/read/write the national language; Thai. Our most important goal and one that they have requested is to teach them fluency in Thai and then as a further incentive we teach them English. There are many opportunities in the rapidly growing tourism industry of Thailand and SE Asia and learning English could be a great advantage for them.
At this time we have two sessions going on per day, a morning session for adults who work in the evening and an evening session for children and adults.
Thai and English Languages 9am-11:30am
Thai and English Languages 5:30pm-8:30pm
Monday and Tuesday evening are dedicated to English language instruction and Wednesday and Thursday are dedicated to Thai instruction. Each class has three levels; the beginning English class is where they learn their ABC’s and phonics with basic vocabulary using sight words. The intermediate level of English focuses on building sentences and vocabulary. The third level is mostly adults and focuses on conversation skills. The Thai lessons work in a similar pattern. The basic class teaches them to speak, read and write Thai while the intermediate class (most of the students) follows the Thai primary school curriculum. The advanced Thai class focuses on conversation, public speaking, creative writing and debate skills. All of our teachers are volunteers and to run each level, every evening, that requires at least 6 teachers, 3 for each subject.
Friday evenings are reserved for the arts. Visiting artists from Thailand and around the world have come to join us for an evening and teach a skill or technique to open up the wider world to our students. Being exposed to the arts helps to grow their self confidence and range of experiences. It gives them a creative outlet where they can freely express themselves. Some workshops are ongoing and some teach skills that the students may use to create products to sell (jewelry making, sewing, recycled art, etc..). Others focus on dance, drama or yoga. It is always a fun time for everyone involved, the students and the volunteers.
The students are also provided with a nutritional snack everyday and fresh soy milk, something that is a luxury for many of them.