Thailand is host to approximately 150,000 Burmese refugees, driven from their home country by decades of violence and political unrest. A significant number of Burmese refugees living in Thailand are children and youth and their existence is characterized by limited access to the most fundamental basic necessities. Without stability or the guarantee of a peaceful and secure existence, opportunities for holistic development are limited.
In response to the challenges faced by young people living in Burmese refugee camps, in June 2002 Right To Play began implementing the Sport and Play Program for Burmese Refugees, made possible through funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC),
The Refugee program in Thailand trains nursery and primary school teachers in Right To Play resources so that they may reach children in the formal education system through the implementation of regular sport and play activities. In addition to school-based programming, Right To Play also engages the community through special events and sports leagues. The objective of the refugee program is to provide children and youth, who exist in a volatile and uncertain environment, with the motivation to continue attending school despite the limitations of a refugee setting. The program also focuses on providing opportunities for the positive emotional and social development of children whose parental supervision is limited. Results observed to date include: lower instances of conflict in schools, higher levels of student attendance and greater use of child-centred teaching practices by educators.
The progress of the refugee program, however, is not the end of Right To Play’s commitment in Thailand. The devastating tsunami that ravaged southern Thailand in 2005 was the impetus for an expansion of Right To Play’s work in the country. Shortly after the disaster, in September 2006, the Response to Tsunami Affected Communities project launched. While that specific project ended in December 2008, it has subsequently evolved into the P’Learn: Learn National Education Program. With ongoing support from the Thai Ministry of Education, the success and influence of Right To Play’s National Education Program has been significant. In fact, the Ministry has requested that the program be expanded beyond the southern provinces to address the needs of Thai children and youth nationwide. The nucleus of this program is participatory learning. Based on activities from the Red Ball Child Play resource, Right To Play is working to enhance the intellectual, physical, emotional and social development of children in Thailand by encouraging their direct and active involvement in their own education.
In 2011, Right To Play as a whole plans to reach: 27,425 children and youth (50 per cent female); 639 coaches and leaders (65 per cent female); 86 schools; 2 community centers
Partners: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); Consolidated Committee for the Services to Displaced People in Thailand (CCSDPT); Thai Ministry of Interior; and the Karen Refugee Committee Education Entity.