Migrant Learning Center Emergence and Proliferation
A Case Study of Migrant Education in Ranong Province
This research aims to 1) identify the critical factors leading to the establishment of Migrant Learning Centers (MLCs) in Ranong Province, Thailand; 2) explore the critical factors leading to the proliferation of Migrant Learning Centers in Ranong Province, Thailand; and 3) analyze factors that hamper the realization of “Education for All” and SDG Goal 4’s assurance of inclusive and equitable quality education via Migrant Learning Centers in Ranong Province. The research process implemented a collective case study design employing qualitative-descriptive methods, with social science approaches, based on semi-structured in-depth interviews and a literature review. Fifty respondents were interviewed through mixed sampling methods including 10 MLC teachers and 40 former MLC students. Corresponding to the research aims, findings show that, firstly, MLCs in Ranong Province began to modestly emerge in the 1990s in tandem with the growing presence of Myanmar migrants to the area. With limited access to Thai public schools for migrant children because of discrimination, cost, and parental preference for Myanmar-rooted education, Myanmar parents and their children responded favorably to community-based schooling options in the form of Migrant Learning Centers. Secondly, the proliferation of these schools within the province did not begin until the mid-2000s due to several converging factors. These included the 2004 tsunami which brought NGOs and other international funders into affected regions, the 2005 Cabinet Resolution which brought more clarity and legitimacy to the rights of undocumented children in accessing education, recognition and action by NGOs and other international actors to invest in mitigating the vast presence of out-of-school children within Thailand, as well as quasi-acceptance of MLCs by local authorities. Finally, MLC education is still hampered in supporting the Thai State to achieve “Education for All” and SDG Goal 4’s assurance of inclusive and equitable quality education due to: 1) tenuous commitment by the Thai State in supporting MLCs; 2) the need for continued coordination between various education stakeholders towards building accreditation systems that allow for MLC students to seamlessly transfer their studies among educational institutes.; 3) and vulnerability of MLC operations due to donor dependency.