Madam Pang joins UNICEF on a special mission to visit migrant children in a remote school of Chiang Mai
BANGKOK, 12 July 2023 – Nualphan Lamsam, known as Madam Pang, has joined UNICEF Thailand on her special mission to meet migrant and stateless children at Baan Pa Bong School, located in a remote area in Chiang Mai Province. Organized earlier this month, the field visit was Madam Pang’s first mission as UNICEF Advocate for Children.
In this role, Madam Pang raises awareness on the challenges facing children in Thailand, advocates for children’s rights and mobilizes financial support for UNICEF's activities in Thailand and globally.
"I firmly believe that the most valuable resources of any country are its people, and they need a strong foundation of care and nurturing from both family and the education system since childhood,” said Madam Pang - Nualphan Lamsam, UNICEF Advocate for Children. “Children are full of potential like a white sheet of paper, and quality education at every level serves as the vibrant colors that fill their lives with beauty. It is truly impressive that every child in Thailand, including migrant and stateless children, now has access to education in Thai schools. This remarkable achievement is made possible by the incredible individuals who have established schools not only in Chiang Mai but also in Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Bangkok, and numerous other provinces."
At Baan Pa Bong Primary School, UNICEF-supported mobile library trucks make regular visits to promote reading and literacy skills among children in ethnic communities residing in remote areas. Filled with children's books and interactive reading tools, these mobile libraries also feature dedicated storytellers who teach the Thai language, create enjoyable games, and nurture a love for reading. Currently, UNICEF mobile library trucks are reaching out to remote schools in five border provinces of Thailand, ensuring access to quality educational materials for more than 8,000 children living in these underserved areas.
Baan Pa Bong School is currently home to 126 students, the majority of whom are stateless and migrant children. These families migrated from Myanmar to work in garlic and chili farms in the area. In the past, when the school had less than 20 students, teachers went door-to-door to raise awareness about the significance of education and convince migrant workers to enroll their children in school.
In Thailand, every child is entitled to 15 years of free education regardless of their nationality or legal status. Today, estimated 150,000 migrant children are currently enrolled in public schools in Thailand thanks to the country’s progressive laws and policies that allow all children including documented and undocumented migrant and stateless children to access education, health care and child protection services.
Yet, some estimated 200,000 migrant children in Thailand are still unable to attend school, according to Thailand Migration Report 2019. This is primarily due to several obstacles, such as language barriers, limited resources and capacity within schools to cater to migrant children, negative attitudes towards them, and a lack of awareness about existing education policies. Moreover, the frequent movement of migrant families adds to the challenges in ensuring consistent access to education for these children.
Severine Leonardi, Deputy Representative at UNICEF Thailand said the number of school-age children with a migrant background is likely to rise in the future due to falling birth rates among the Thai population and increasing cross-border mobility. Already, teaching migrant children is part of the teachers’ work in many public schools today.
"Education knows no borders. Ensuring every migrant child has access to education is not just a moral imperative, it is a transformative investment in our shared future. As Thailand is aging at a fast pace, migrant children will play a very important role in contributing to the country’s social and economic development in the future,” said Leonardi who accompanied Madam Pang on the mission.
Kyungsun Kim, UNICEF Representative for Thailand said: “We are grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside Khun Nualphan Lamsam, whose dedication and support are valuable in helping us create a brighter future for children, including the bright children who welcomed our team in Chiang Mai. Together, we can empower and uplift every child, ensuring they have access to quality education and the opportunity to thrive."
"With the dedication and passion that I have, I would like to commit that I will do everything in my power, with all my capability, experience, and proficiency, to help foster every child’s development together," Madam Pang ends with her commitment for every child.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/thailand.
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