» Refugee children connected to learning at ‘Heavenly Home’
17.06.2016 - Education Sector

Refugee children connected to learning at ‘Heavenly Home’


A UNESCO-supported orphanage on the Thai-Myanmar border has given stability to refugee and migrant children along with enhanced learning through mobile devices.

The Heavenly Home orphanage was founded a decade ago to cater for refugee and migrant orphans after founder Lily was asked to take in a six-month old abandoned baby. Today the baby is a happy, healthy 11-year-old boy called Sam, one of 73 children who live fulltime at the home in the Thai border town of Mae Sot.  

The home has changed from a small space in the town’s market place to a two-storey wooden building on the outskirts of the city with 65 of its residents in school – 45 go to a local Thai school and 20 to a learning centre in Myanmar. The rest are too young to attend school and are cared for during the day by Lily, her husband Thant Zin, and 11 of her dedicated staff. Lily also offers day-care services for the children of migrant workers living in the area.

Heavenly Home was one of the first sites selected for UNESCO Bangkok’s Mobile Literacy for Out-of-School Children project.

Learning in ethnic languages

The initiative, a collaboration between UNESCO, Microsoft, True and the Thai Ministry of Education, provides selected learning centres with tablets that contain a UNESCO designed app featuring over 1,000 learning resources in Thai, Myanmar as well as ethnic languages, as well as satellite TV with educational programmes and free internet.

The project, funded by Microsoft and implemented by UNESCO, Microsoft Thailand, True Corporation, the Office of Non-Formal and Informal Education and the Office of the Basic Education Commission, Thai Ministry of Education aims to enhance the basic literacy and numeracy skills of the thousands of migrant, ethnic minority and stateless children in the Thai-Myanmar border areas.

Heavenly Home offers classes in subjects such as the Thai, Myanmar and English languages. Lily and teachers at the centre said that the tablets have proved invaluable in helping them and their learners access materials that would otherwise be beyond their reach.  

The combination of care and modern learning methods have garnered successes as Ann who arrived at the orphanage with her one-year-old brother after her mother died and her father was incapable of caring for her. She is now a star pupil and excited to start grade 7 at the nearby Mae Sot School.

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