The ongoing conflict in Burma has restricted the healthy development of the education system and left many children orphaned, or with only one parent. Active conflict in Burma has forced many families to make tough decisions on the best way to secure the future of their children.
One of the many difficult choices includes how to ensure access to a sustainable education that is inexpensive and will allow their children to learn and grow in a safe environment. Many families are forced to send their children away from home to find safety and continue their studies uninterrupted. KWO operates dormitories in 5 of the refugee camps and in 2 IDP areas, to provide a safe and caring environment for separated children coming from Karen State for educational purposes. This project has been run since 1999.
KWO operates dormitories in Mae La refugee camp and six districts in Karen State. Children who stay in the dormitories are between the ages of 7 and 23. In Karen State, there were 768 dormitory students, and in Mae La there were 33 students from 2018. In 2019, there were 26 students in Mae La and 832 in the districts. KWO has had to scale down the dormitory project as funding becomes more limited.
We have also had to stop taking in new students but continue to support them at
home or at the homes of their relatives. KWO provides emotional and material
support to the dormitory students which includes housing, clothing, food and
assistance with their studies. Students receive hygiene packages, warm clothes,
study supplies including a notebook, writing tool and candle, bed mats,
blankets, mosquito nets, supplementary nutritional food to add to the camp
KWO covers the school fees to ensure the students are able to have
access to education. Providing the care services is one-full time KWO staff member who works in accordance with the Care for Dormitories – a document which was developed by KWO with children and community leaders through a participatory process in 2008.
For students who are not living in the dormitories, KWO supported 106 students living with their parents or caretakers in the camp to ensure they can continue their studies in 2018 and 94 in 2019. Due to a decrease in sponsorship,the number in 2019 was lower. KWO provides support as needed and meets families regularly to ensure the child is being cared for and looked after safely. Ideally, students would stay with their parents and families, but there are no schools in some of the villages where students come from, so they have to travel to another location and stay with relatives. Some of the students come from very poor families who are not able to support their education, or from families with several children. KWO believes that education should not mean parental separation. The unaccompanied children project seeks to provide students staying with other relatives the same access to education. We cover the school fees and provide basic hygiene products. KWO does regular monitoring to ensure they will stay in good and safe conditions.
KWO is an ethnic women’s community-based organization that empowers women so they have capacity and power to solve their own problems and participate in decision-making that will affect their lives.
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