Thailand and UNESCO educating stateless children

Tribal and stateless children in remote villages in Thailand are getting an education as a result of an innovative joint project by UNESCO and the Thai government that gives tablets to children and cash incentives to families.

In Thailand, the laws give stateless children a right to education, but there are still barriers including language, lack of access to resources, financial hardship and geography.

In response, the government and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have joined forces to launch a project called Learning Coin.

As part of Learning Coin, students can download lessons in their mother tongue on tablets given to them through the project. The tablet records and transmits time spent on assignments, reading, and answers to lesson questions. Based on that information, students are awarded between $25 and $38 each month, equal to as much as 10 percent of the average family income in these communities.

So far, about 500 students are enrolled in the project. Some are in the mountainous northern border province of Mae Hong Son, and some are in the province of Yala in the Deep South.

“Being stateless deprives these youth of learning opportunities. Because of their status, they were not confident in attending school. They came to start studying with non-formal education, and I saw them trying hard to learn,’’ said Chaisri Taya, a teacher in Mae Hong Son province who was stateless as a child but is now a Thai citizen.

First tried in 2018, Learning Coin is in the pilot stage. But those involved say that the results so far have been positive. They expect Learning Coin will be scaled up to full program status and cover many more children in need in all corners of the Kingdom.

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