Supporting education and related programs for the empowerment
of children, youth and their communities in the Asia Pacific

Bamboo School, Thailand

La Salle Bamboo School and Parmenie Learning Center in Thailand provides education for Burmese refugee children on the border of Myanmar and Thailand. These children and their families have been displaced from their homelands forcing their communities to form makeshift villages along the border of Thailand. These children and their families do not have identity papers. They are not recognised by the Thai Government, and the Burmese Government does not offer them any assistance. 

La Salle Bamboo School gives these families the opportunity of a brighter future through educating their children. Initially opened in 2008 with only 40 students the school soon grew rapidly to more than 300. So responding to the demand for places in 2012, a new school called Parmenie Learning Center was built to accommodate up to 400 primary school children. In 2014 both campuses continue to attract more students which means there is an urgent need to expand Parmenie Learning Centre again. 

Lasallian Foundation CEO Miranda Chow visited the Bamboo School in October 2014 where she witnessed firsthand the incredible work happening at the La Salle Bamboo School and Parmenie Learning Center (PLC). While there she met some of the older graduates who have commenced their secondary education through the local adult education course. 

One girl, Bow (pictured right), grew up across the border in Myanmar in a refugee family, like many of the children in the area, from the minority Karen tribe. Her family is desperately poor and her parents worked in the rubber plantations earning very meagre daily wages to survive. Bow along with her younger brother and sister were left in the care of their grandparents when their parents moved away in search of better employment. 

School was not a priority and the local primary schools would not accept them as they did not have Thai identity papers, and they only spoke their tribal Karen dialect, not Thai or Burmese. Local schools do not have remedial services to support the children’s learning needs which also sadly leads to many tribal children dropping out of primary school. Unfortunately, this is an extremely common situation and forces many children like Bow out to work from a young age to help support their family.  

When Bow started at the Bamboo School at age 11, she could not speak any Thai. But after only two years of primary education she came second in a national essay writing competition, and now at only 17 years old, she can speak fluent Thai and the centre has helped her obtain her Thai identity papers, which allows her access to a local secondary school. She is extremely bright, determined to complete her secondary education and to become a pharmacist. She understands her education will offer opportunities for a better, more secure future, giving her hope and dignity.

Together, step by step, we hope to empower these young refugee children to create a positive future for themselves and their communities. They will gain their dignity; their identity; their right to education and their rights as people. Just like Bow.