The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states that all children have a right to education. However, for migrant families living in Thailand, access to education is inhibited by poverty, geographical isolation, language barriers and poor understanding of children’s rights under Thai law.
While Thai government education is by law free for all residents, many migrant families in Sangkhlaburi are unaware of this, lack the Thai language skills needed to enrol their children, or are afraid to approach school authorities. Further, while education itself is free, extra costs for transport to school, school uniforms and school meals can be prohibitive. In other cases, families simply cannot affford to lose out on the income gained by sending their child to work.
Attendance data from the 14 primary schools in Sangkhlaburi District, covering the last ten years, shows that up to 10% of children in primary school drop out each year, while only half of those who complete primary school continue on to middle school. When children are outside education they face more limited prospects and become vulnerable to exploitation.