They have fled fighting, conscription and forced labour during the past 20 years and have settled on the Thai side of the border. The people from Myanmar (Burma) have become the major group of displaced persons in Thailand. Most of them are currently being sheltered along the Thai-Burma border and it is estimated that there are more then 40,000 children from Burma under the age of 15 accompanying their parents. In addition, thousands of unaccompanied children are driven across the border by the desperate circumstances in Burma. Since they lack Thai citizenship and are undocumented migrants they are not eligible for the educational and health care assistance available to documented refugees. Their socioeconomic circumstances make them vulnerable to agents working for the commercial sex industry who are always on the look out to exploit young, vulnerable boys and girls.
Community Learning Centre (CLC)
The Community Learning Centre in Mae Sai, under direction of DEPDC/GMS, provides computer training, human rights education and literacy training in both the Thai and English languages for undocumented migrants, refugees and other community members living along the Thai-Burmese border. The centre is also open to young people who may be at risk of being sold into the commercial sex industry as well as to their parents and other adult community members.
The Community Learning Centre (CLC) received funding from Anesvad (Spain) and officially opened its doors in February 2005 and has received continued funding to date. Most of the current CLC students have an ethnic background belonging to the Shan (Thai Yai), Thai Lue or Akha minorities and many of them are originally from Myanmar (Burma).
Vocational Training and Seminars
In addition to the regular classes offered in Thai, English and Computing the programme aims to provide vocational training and education seminars to further empower the target group.
Subjects and areas covered are the following:
Prevention of Human Trafficking and Child Labour, Drugs Prevention, Nationality and Immigration, Environmental Issues, HIV/AIDS Preventions, First Aid, Mental Health and Ideology, Thai and Hill Tribe Cultural Exchange, Traffic Rules and Regulations, Computer Training, Carpentry, Culinary – Dessert, Culinary – Food, Flower Arranging, Hygiene, Agriculture.