With many Karen villages being in remote and isolated locations and the lack of safe roads, there are students that struggle to physically access their schools everyday. Many Karen children need to live away from home in dormitories, and some of these are at the school whilst some are managed by local churches or may even be private boarding houses.
Children as young as 4 have had to live away from home because there is no other way to ensure their daily attendance in school, especially during the rainy season when roads are extra treacherous or inaccessible. From KHT’s monitoring and follow up, the main reason cited by parents to not send children to school was the distance and inability to get them safely there everyday.
Whilst KHT believe that children should be living at home and we have prioritised setting up and maintaining bus routes to ensure attendance for students that live far away from their schools, there is still a need for some students to live closer to their schools.
In Thailand, school children are given free school lunches by the government, however for children that live in dormitories at school or closer to their school, breakfast and dinner are not included.
To support these students, KHT provides funding for their meals to ensure they have nutritious food, their physical health is being considered and their families are not forced to take them out of school due to the cost of dormitories.
In January 2023 we sent out a monitoring and evaluation survey to the schools we supply school meals to, this is to assess the impact of our project.
Currently there are 190 girls to 106 boys getting school meals support from KHT. Nearly all of these Karen children must live in dormitories because of the difficult distance they would have to travel and because rainy season makes it too difficult to operate a school bus route. Although KHT has offered to fund bus routes only in dry season for these villages, it did not lead to fewer students staying in dormitories as they must secure their place for their entire academic year. Therefore, meals were requested by these schools to ensure that students did not stop attending due to the cost of living away.
KHT’s school meals funding is used to buy fruit, vegetables, rice, meat and eggs and the majority of the schools we work with have stated that thanks to this the children eat a balanced diet. One school suggested that more healthy fats were needed, and we will be following up on this with them.
The schools also spoke of rising costs to board children as well as other amenities lacking in the schools that have less government funding. This includes needing water tanks, transport support to get children to school at the beginning of term and back home at the end, as some parents did not have cars or bikes and school uniforms and books.
KHT’s school meals programme is well received by schools and parents who struggle to cover the cost of food for children in dormitories. Through our programme the burden on schools is not placed on parents and we can ensure better care for children who must live away from their families. KHT’s involvement has also meant we can link to the schools to promote the opportunities for scholarship, deworming and other forms of support that will benefit Karen children.
You can help us do more to ensure Karen children face fewer barriers to education by donating today! It costs less than £25 a month to support a Karen student and ensure they have more opportunity in their lives and are not left behind due to poverty or marginalisation.