Home Research Education International Special Projects Perspectives

Beyond the Classroom...
Education goes far beyond the classroom for millions of refugees from Burma who are vulnerable to exploitation because they are illegal, illiterate and uprooted from their homeland.  Displaced and stateless, they leverage education to get and maintain jobs, feed families, prevent disease, avoid abuse and rebuild communities. In addition to funding preschool and primary school for thousands without other access to education, the John P. Hussman Foundation funds community-based programs that take children off the streets;  train financially illiterate migrant workers to calculate wages and advocate for their basic rights; support young adult migrant students in Thai schools; train farmers in ecological agricultural practices; train leaders to assess and respond to community needs as well as train and support thousands of teachers in remote jungle villages.
Burmese Migrant Workers Education Committee (BMWEC)
The Hussman Foundation currently supports 22 schools and funded core administrative costs for the Burmese Migrant Workers Education Committee. The BMWEC began in 2000 in an effort to promote the education of children from Burma living without legal status (and in many cases stateless) in Tak Province of Thailand (along the Thai-Burma border). Given the lack of documents and language skills, these children have been unable to access formal schools. Consequently, many informal community efforts have been initiated to provide basic literacy and math skills to children. The majority of migrant schools supported by BMWEC are for primary education, however secondary schools have been established and access to higher education negotiated for outstanding students.
Wat Fa Weing Inn Pre-School
Wat Fa Wieng Inn Pre-school is located right at the northern Thai-Burma border offering a safe place, health services and early childhood development programs for refugee and migrant children (without documentation) while their parents went to the fields to work each day or those orphaned by the war and displacement. The pre-school has also provided basic national language skills for ethnic minority children and has had increasing success in negotiating their acceptance into formal Thai primary and secondary schools The Wat Fa Wieng Inn Pre-school has grown from 49 children in 1996 to over 250 children in 2005 as a continual influx of refugees and migrants have crossed the border from Burma into Thailand. The Wat Fa Weing Inn Pre-school is open year-round and offers a nutritious hot lunch to the children each day. The parents have been very involved in the school through in-kind donations and labor to build and maintain the schools (which have had to move numerous times over the years due to the unstable environment). The Hussman Foundation has supported the pre-school since 2005.
In rural areas along the Thai-Burma border, the John P. Hussman Foundation partners with Pattanarak to teach displaced ethnic-minority farmers, how to farm organically, preserve food, and leverage their earnings through group saving cooperatives.  The agricultural techniques yield crop surpluses, and with the extra income, many villages are starting mini-credit unions where they can collectively save money to finance village improvements or make loans within the village. One village has saved in two years nearly $5,000USD which has been used to open a cooperative community store to provide access to cheaper rice and other goods. Other projects include: malaria education and prevention using bed nets; community health campaigns; workshops to show parents the value of keeping their children in school instead of sending them to work; training teachers and community leaders how to actively engage participants; health referral for severely ill patients; Thai-language classes for migrant workers, teachers, monks, students and sex workers.  For details: www.pattanarak.or.th/home.html.
Karen Teachers Working Group - Karen Education Assistance Program
In partnership with the Karen Teacher Working Group, the Hussman Foundation supports nearly 80 schools for migrant children along Burma’s Thai border, providing teacher subsidies, education, vitamins A and B and deworming for more than 12,000 students who would otherwise go without. Acute poverty and crop failure due to decades of military conflict and oppression of ethnic minority populations render many communities unable to provide teachers with adequate salary or food, resulting in a 35% teacher attrition rate annually. Yet villages continue to prioritize education so children can build skills and maintain a sense of normalcy.  For more details, please visit www.ktwg.org.

Site and site contents © copyright 2007 Hussman Foundation. Site design by 1WebsiteDesigners.