Education in refugee camps in Thailand: policy, practice and paucity
One of the notable features of education in the refugee camps in Thailand is that the system of schools and learning was set up, and is staffed and managed by the refugees residing in the camps, with help from external organisations. There are 70 schools in the seven predominantly Karen camps staffed by approximately 80 headteachers and 1 600 teachers. They support and foster the learning of more than 34 000 students. There are 11 schools in the two Karenni camps in the north. The education in the camps is sanctioned by the Thai authorities, and implemented and supported by local and international NGOs and community- based organisations (CBOs). Although the Royal Thai Government (RTG) is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, it does provide some form of sanctuary to the refugees and allows local and international organisations to operate in the camps. These organisations provide essential services in the areas of education, health, food and shelter. However, there are broad and specific restrictions imposed by the Thai government on the movement, livelihoods and education of the refugees. This has significant implications on their opportunities for personal and social development as well as the development of their community. This paper examines the impact of these restrictions and funding on the quality of the learning experience, the cost of schooling and the relevance of education in the camps.