Opened in 1996, the Patak Half Day School (HDS) Program provides non-formal education, life skills training, and vocational training to children from Patak village in Mae Sai and from the surrounding areas, including Myanmar. The HDS Program assists with repatriation where it is safe and social reintegration where it is needed, helping people to safely build or reclaim their lives. These are parts of a broader program which uses education as a tool for preventing human trafficking by reducing the number and the vulnerability of children who are at risk of being trafficked or exploited.
At the Half Day School, this program and the activities mentioned above are carried out by three different projects: the HDS Program itself, along with the Community Learning Centre (CLC) Project and the Child Helpline (CHL) Project. The Half Day School shares the center in Mae Sai with these other projects. The three main components of the HDS Program are non-formal education, life-skills training, and vocational training. The Program uses education to prevent child trafficking and exploitation by equipping children with the ability to live independently and self-sufficiently, enabling them to live without having to resort to exploitation in order to survive and to be able to continue to improve their circumstances.
Non-formal education includes typical subjects such as Thai, science, mathematics, humanities and English within a non-formal setting, since the Half Day School is not a formally recognized and accredited school. The population of HDS classes are typically based on a combination of age and ability. As a result, our classes from Pre-Kindergarten to primary school level five contain students aged five to eighteen.
In addition to non-formal education, these children are taught life-skills classes, which provide them with skills that will assist in daily life and also in gainful employment. These life skills include such things as cooking and cleaning; repairs and construction of objects such as doors, roofs, windows and floors; weaving and sewing for repairing or making clothes; and handicrafts for home decoration, personal use or commercial sale.
The final component of the Half Day School Program is vocational training, which equips students with skills that will make them more employable. These include activities like farming at the Mae Sai centre’s agriculture site; handicrafts, knitting, weaving and sewing; and restaurant cooking. Students can take more than one of these classes, which many do, so that they are trained in as many areas as possible for their future careers. After regular academic classes from 9 to 12 in the morning, these vocational classes occupy the remainder of the school day until 3:30 pm. Then, the children return home to Patak village, neighbouring areas, and Myanmar, courtesy of the Half Day School bus, which was kindly supplied by the Japanese Government in 2002.
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