Through reports from our scholarship students, we learned that many found it difficult to adjust to their new intellectually demanding environments given their limited academic preparation in local schools. Despite their enthusiasm, commitment and hard work, these students struggle to balance school and the multiple jobs they hold. In addition to providing the most emotional and financial support we can provide, we have started to address the need to prepare students to enter these rigorous secondary institutions away from home.
In addition to local schools being considered less than average amongst Thai schools nationwide, Shan youth face additional difficulties that impede their educational success. Few of the children’s parents speak Thai, which is a huge disadvantage when considering that the language spoken in schools is Thai. Though the students we work with have seemed to quickly adjust and learn the language, it is still something to consider when comparing their test scores to native Thai students. Shan youth and parents also tell stories of discrimination in the classroom, reporting that they are often written off by teachers and peers. They rarely feel intellectually challenged.
We started our after-school tutoring program in order to supplement the education the Shan youth receive in Thai schools and, in some cases, provide access to a flexible education program for those unable to attend traditional schools. Teaching in both Thai and English, we promote dual language learning and encourage critical and creative thinking – skills and knowledge that will help students achieve in school, perform better on national tests and contribute to democratic reform if they choose to return to Burma/Myanmar in the future. Through our after-school program we aim to create a safe environment free of discrimination where students gain the self-confidence necessary for success. The arts are an integral part of the After-School Program – providing opportunities for positive youth development and for students to develop key resiliency strategies to help them in the future.
Our Executive Director in Thailand coordinates the program with the help of highly qualified education interns. If you are interested in learning more about our internship program, please visit our ‘Volunteer’ page.
During the After-School Program students engage in creative activities with materials they would otherwise never have access to, learn English and critical thinking skills with native English speakers and build relationships with diverse role models. Our students have shown great academic gains, evidenced by their improved school grades. We look forward to further evaluating our success as this generation of young people starts to enroll in high school and seek scholarships to more competitive institutions. See our Annual Report for more information about our budget and our plans for the future of the After School Tutoring Program.