Marist Asia school for Burmese migrants reopens

marist asia

A Marist secondary school programme in Ranong Thailand with close links to New Zealand has re-opened.

The school was one of 10 Burmese migrant learning centres closed as a result of the 24 August arrest and deportation of 32 Burmese teachers by Thai officials.

News of their reopening on a part-time basis was confirmed on Monday, by Fr Frank Bird, the Director of the Marist Asia Foundation.

“We have our school programme operating because the Marist Asia Foundation is a registered foundation and we have international volunteers and Thai staff”, Frank Bird said.

At present, the school is the only migrant learning centre able to open.

It re-opened after conducting a risk re-assessment and determining that by using only Thai and International volunteers the threat risk was “low”.

In making the decision to re-open, the Marist Asia Foundation decided that as well as catering for its secondary school students, the school would welcome students from other secondary schools to come and sit their exams.

“We want to show the students our care and support”, said Frank Bird.

“We don’t want them to miss out on the opportunity.”

While the school has some surplus capacity, it worked in co-operation with a local monastery to provide space for students to sit their exams.

Like others in the region, the Marist Asia Foundation laments its inability to reintroduce its Burmese teachers into their classrooms.

“We feel deeply the pain and anxiety of the Burmese Migrant Community as their children are not able to attend school and their own teachers are not allowed to teach”, says Frank Bird.

The Thai Government considers the Burmese learning centres as illegal and their Burmese teachers are also illegal. It is a situation that has been permitted for the past 15-20 years.

While the students are not at school, they are either unsafely wandering the streets, locked up at home while their parents go to work, or follow their parents to work in the unsafe fish and charcoal factories.


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