The more you learn, the more you earn: Education and Poverty Alleviation in Thailand |


Chisri Taya, a teacher in the northwestern mountainous district of Mae Hong Son, is a testament to the power of education. He was born stateless, obtained a bachelor’s degree and obtained Thai citizenship. He has since become a role model in his community, sharing his experiences with children and youth in a language they can relate to.

UNESCO / Bornpelin Smithwija

Chisri Taya educates children from underprivileged communities in Ban Nai Soi Village, Northern Thailand, using tools from the UNESCO Learning Currency Initiative

For children in the village of Ban Nai Sui, four kilometers from the community learning center where Mr. Chesiri teaches, barriers to education are almost impossible: to get to the center, they have to take a gravel road, which is often difficult to navigate in Flood season, at home, do not have access to the Internet, and limited access to electricity outside the grid.

Plus, many of them are stateless, which hinders their potential. Although education is officially guaranteed to all children in the country, regardless of their status, language barriers, discrimination, lack of access to resources, financial hardship and geography create barriers to full enrollment, with an unknown number of children out of school.

“Being stateless deprives these young people of educational opportunities. Because of their status, they were not confident of going to school.” Says Mr. Chesery. “They came to start school with a non-formal education and I saw them try very hard to learn.”

UNESCO / Bornpelin Smithwija

Learning Coin student, Arisa, 17, works with a tablet made available through the initiative.

The power of learning currency

But Learn the currencyAnd, a UN-backed initiative, gives them a renewed drive to embark on the challenging journey of meeting their mentor. Ban Nai Soi students travel to Mr. Chaisri’s home and learning center by motorcycle for lessons and download content on the digital tablets provided by the project, which they can read offline at home, developing an education that may have previously hit, literally and figuratively, a barrier. .

Starting in July 2020, Learning Coin has expanded to support nearly 500 underprivileged children across Thailand, from ethnic minorities and stateless communities in Mae Hong Son, to underprivileged Thai children in the southern Yala region.

Students can access multilingual content on their tablets, including lessons and reading materials. By recording data from tablets on a daily basis, the Learning Coin app can determine the number of hours each student spent accessing the materials, the consistency of their work, and the answers they send. Based on this information, students are awarded between 800 and 1,200 baht ($ 25-38) each month, which is up to 10 percent of the average household income in these communities.

UNESCO / Bornpelin Smithwija

Learner Jaikham, 17, runs a spicy Thai food stall on Ban Nai Soi in Thailand, which she opened during the pandemic.

The pandemic threatens permanent learning loss

“While innovations like Learning Coin have a positive impact, they must be matched at the policy level, with initiatives that address financial needs, well-being, combat discrimination and a lack of access to resources,” says Gita Sabharwal, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Thailand (the highest-ranked representative of the United Nations Development Program at the country level). “There are still significant challenges facing an equitable education for learners from ethnic and linguistic minorities, girls and young women, and the most marginalized communities.”

The Covid-19 The epidemic has added to these challenges, as it affected marginalized communities in the first place and the most dangerous, causing major disruptions in education systems, and threatening permanent learning loss. Girls and young women are disproportionately at risk of losing access to their education during the epidemic, as they tend to tolerate The burden of family duties.

“These children have the same potential and aspirations as any other child,” says Ms. Sabharwal. “As they strive to support their families, their dreams are varied and full of hope: to become a doctor, athlete, or translator, to live a full life within and for their community. These are dreams that build healthy and more equitable societies for all.”

UNESCO / Bornpelin Smithwija

Telephone and internet connection is very limited in the village.

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