The Mulberry Learning Centre is a school for Burmese migrant children living in the Kuraburi fishing district of Phang Na Province, in Southern Thailand. These children are part of a marginalized population living in poverty, deprived of education and compromised by difficult living conditions. Access to the local education system is virtually impossible for Burmese children due to costly enrollment and uniform fees, a lack of transportation, language barriers, lower levels of general education and fear of arrest, deportation and discrimination. The Mulberry Learning Centre therefore provides these children with an access to education programs that would otherwise not exist.
The construction of a brand new school was generously funded by Mulberry Marketing Communications. Additional donations are critical for the school's annual meal program and to support ongoing teacher salaries.
Less than 15% of Burmese migrant children are able to attend Thai schools. As a result, many children stay at home or, worse, they work with their parents as child laborers. Migrant learning centers have been established by nonprofit and community organizations to meet the educational needs of these displaced children.
Previous to the new school being built, the community had been attending the Kuraburi Migrant Learning Centre, which was established after the December Tsunami in 2004. It was built on rented land with a 5-year lease -- this led to fluctuations in rent and a great deal of instability for the children. The area had also been plagued by environmental changes that had made it unsuitable. Sea water levels had continuously been rising near the learning centre, which left the classrooms flooded with a foot of water and debris. The water had damaged desks and wooden cupboards, and left classrooms unusuable and a major health risk to the young children. Trying to mitigate these effects was costly - nearly the equivalent of one year’s rent.
The new school has been built further inland, away from the coastline, and children now take a school bus to school that is funded by donations. The school has a total of seven classrooms that serves over 90 children from the grades of 1-7. The school also has a computer lab and a large nursery for children ages 2-5. A staff room and storage room keeps educational materials and computers safe from damage when not in use. The land surrounding the school has plenty of outdoor play space and a small playground with a swing set and see-saws.
Daily activities include classes taught in Burmese, Thai, and English. The children learn Math, basic humanities and traditional Thai and Burmese dance. All students also receive bi-weekly health check-ups.