Founded in the spring of 2005, Ban Nai Soi Community Learning Centre (BNSCLC) seeks to provide secondary education, practical vocational skills, and community development skills to secondary school-aged Burmese refugees, ethnic minorities and the rural poor living in the Mae Hong Son Province area of Thailand.
The purpose of this project is to provide for the basic needs of the students in the most need. Without a provision of food and medicine, many of the poorest students would not be able to attend the learning centre and would be at increased risk for falling victim to exploitative labour.
Additionally, this project funded a much needed renovation of the boy’s dormitory.
The learning centre provides an avenue of greater opportunities and better chances in life for these disadvantaged youths.
The students at BNSCLC are part of a large population of Burmese migrants living outside of the refugee camps. Not being in the camps leaves the children without any access to secondary education. This is because they don’t have the appropriate documentation that would give them access to government schools. This lack of educational opportunity leaves them with few options.
BNSCLC has coordinated with the Mae Hong Son Provincial Informal Education Department to provide high school accredited education to these children, and give them the opportunity to break away from poverty.
The public funding available to operate these informal schools is understandably low, to non-existent.
As it follows, the centre has not had sufficient funds to buy enough food or medicine for the students. The result has been that the staff that run the school have been using their own salaries to fund this. It is not a sustainable option as their salaries are minimal and they have their own needs to pay for too.
In addition to these basic needs, the boy’s dormitory was in a serious state of disrepair: the floor boards were cracked and broken, there were no windows and the roof was not strong and secure. This was not a safe or effective learning environment for the boys, who would otherwise would not be able to attend BNSCLC.