Some of the young Shan we work with are Burmese citizens, some have the technically required government-sponsored Thai ID cards, some have Thai birth certificates and some lack any identification at all. No matter their status, the Shan face additional challenges to accessing educational opportunities beyond primary school. Given the limited employment opportunities for stateless migrants, financial constraints are obviously a deterrent to further education when young people could be working to support themselves and their family. Families rarely have the means to pay for local school fees, much less pay for their child to go a more prestigious and academically rigorous school in a city a few hours away. To respond to this challenge, Kwah Dao started providing secondary school scholarship funding for especially dedicated Shan youth. Starting with one student, we now fund eight who were admitted to great high schools in Chiang Mai and show extreme promise. Two of these students just started their first year at university – the first in their communities to enter higher education. This is an extremely impressive feat and we are so proud of each of our students!
We look forward to continuing to support our current and future scholarship students as they complete secondary school and consider furthering their education. In doing so, they are gaining the skills to contribute to democratization if they choose to return to Myanmar, paving the way for the next generation of Burmese Shan youth and hopefully alleviating prejudice by challenging people’s stereotypes of migrants. Please visit our students’ profiles to learn more about each of our scholarship recipients. Currently three of our scholarship students are funded by individual case sponsors. The other five are funded by a combination of grants and donations. If you are interested in learning more about our sponsorship program, please visit our ‘Ways to Help’ page. We aim to develop sponsorships for each student in order to build a sense of community and stability for both donors and our outstanding students.