On November 1, 2013, Thailand’s lower house approved the amnesty bill that could have led to the return from exile of former Prime Minister Thaksin, but opponents of the bill held large-scale demonstrations in Bangkok. The lower house was dissolved by Prime Minister Yingluck and a general election took place in February. However, because of the boycotts of the election and demonstrations against the government which prevented people from going to polling stations, the constitutional court declared the election invalid. Confused situation is expected to extend over a long period.
Regional gap between urban areas and rural areas is still significant. For example, in areas near the border with Myanmar, school children in lower grades go to branch schools, which have only small classrooms. After attending the branch school, those children go to the main school in the city while living in a dormitory in many cases.
In Thailand, although free education system started in 2009, parents are forced to pay additional fees because of lack of operating funds. There are many necessities that must be prepared for school life such as school uniforms and tools, and the cost of attending school is also placing a large financial burden on poor families in the mountainous regions in many cases.
In 2014, the SVA plans to work on a scholarship project in the areas of minority people. The project to make the Sikkha Asia Foundation (SAF) an autonomous organization has entered its fifth and final year, and the SVA will focus its efforts on establishing relations with supporters in Japan and improving the fundraising capacity both in Thailand and abroad.
Work on Scholarship Project to Support Children of Slum Dwellers and Migrant Workers
In Thailand, the increase of migrant workers is raising concerns on the educational issues of migrant children. Also schools are facing a shortage of operating funds, so parents are forced to pay additional fees. As a result, families in poor regions and slums are suffering the heavy financial burden.
In view of this situation, Sikkha Asia Foundation (SAF), established by the SVA, focused on education support projects to expand educational opportunities for children in the urban slums and those of ethnic minorities or migrant workers who are in difficult situations. In 2015, SAF offers scholarships for about 430 students in middle schools, high schools, and universities in Phayao Province, Tak Province, and the slum districts in Bangkok City.
In 2015, staff members had an opportunity to report the situation of scholarship students to supporters in Japan. Also SAF became independent from the SVA as a more sustainable and socially responsible NGO of Thailand.