Providing free education for highly vulnerable stateless children living in the Sangkhlaburi district of the Thai/Burmese border zone was the starting point for everything that has become Children of the Forest. 6 years on the concept of education for all children remains at the heart of Children of the Forest’s mission. The Children of the Forest school today provides free education for 400 children. These children are stateless Karen, Mon and Burmese children living in Sangkhlaburi. A wide school bus pick up service, no school fees and a teaching approach that allows non Thai speakers to intergrate easily, ensures these children start, and stay, in school. School means safety and education. Without school these children will remain in a cycle of poverty and exploitation, forced to work from an early age in low paid and often dangerous work. Condemned to low pay, low status and an unstable future these children will pass on the same limited choices to their own children. Children of the Forest school with the support from our generous sponsors are striving to change this.

The Children of the Forest school has grown rapidly from its modest beginnings.  The bamboo classrooms remain but the gradual building of a solid reputation within the local education system has enabled the school to become a satellite school to the local government school. This is a crucial achievement. It means that children at the school are now registered within the Thai school system and can sit Thai school exams. Obtaining certificates from the Thai school system vastly improves the opportunities the children will have in the future. In addition this means that when children leave the Children of the Forest school after grade 3 they are able to move easily into grade 4 at the local government school. In the 2010 school year 14 children, in 2011 a further 30 children made this big step. All continue to do well at the government school and we have every confidence that all of them will graduate from grade 6 of Thai primary school. In 2012 we expect between 40 and 60 children to move into grade 4 of the government school, an exciting prospect!

Children of the Forest’s mission is to provide for those who have no or limited choices, who are at risk of abuse, being forced into work or trafficked. It is clear that many children in the area still fall into this category despite positives changes in Thai law. Children of the Forest school mission is to be as effective as possible in meeting the needs of these children and providing them with real hope and opportunity.

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