News / Asia

Thai Schools for Migrants Aim to Prevent Child Labor

Thai Schools for Migrants Aim to Prevent Child Labori
|| 0:00:00
X
Daniel Schearf
December 21, 2012 9:48 PM
Thailand's seafood industry is expressing concern about child labor practices that, if not improved, could see exports to the United States restricted. The Thai government established schools for children of migrant laborers, most from Burma, to provide an alternative to child labor. But, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Samutsakhon province, too many children are still working.

Thai Schools for Migrants Aim to Prevent Child Labor

Daniel Schearf
— Thailand's seafood industry is expressing concern about child labor practices that, if not improved, could see exports to the United States restricted.  The Thai government established schools for children of migrant laborers, most from Burma, to provide an alternative to child labor.  But too many children are still working.

9-year-old Nu Nu Wai would like to go to school full time and become a painter. 

But, as a child of migrant workers from Burma her parents cannot make enough money so she only attends 10 days a month. 

  • Thai and migrant workers' children leave school in trucks in Samutsakhon, Thailand, December 20, 2012. (VOA/D. Schearf)
  • Burmese teacher Than Than Win with children of migrant workers at a school in Samutsakhon Thailand, December 20, 2012. (VOA/D. Schearf)
  • Principal Pisarn Nuntasae with migrant workers' children at Wat Sri Suttharam School in Samutsakhon, Thailand, December 20, 2012. (VOA/D. Schearf)
  • Children of migrant workers study in class in Samutsakhon, Thailand, December 20, 2012. (VOA/D. Schearf)
  • Children of migrant workers line up to leave school in Samutsakhon, Thailand, December 20, 2012. (VOA/D. Schearf)
  • Migrant factory workers in class in Samutsakhon, Thailand, December 20, 2012. (VOA/D. Schearf)
  • Burmese migrant workers sort and clean squid in Samutsakhon, Thailand, December 20, 2012. (VOA/D. Schearf)
  • Squid for cleaning and sorting in Samutsakhon, Thailand, December 20, 2012. (VOA/D. Schearf)
  • A Burmese woman sorts and cleans squid at Talay Thai in Samutsakhon, Thailand, December 20, 2012. (VOA/D. Schearf)

She spends the rest of her time peeling shrimp in a factory that employs five other children.

Her teacher, Than Than Win says she works there with her parents up to 13 hours per day.

"Parents who have financial problems cannot send their children to school regularly.  Sometimes, they ask their children to work and help in their work," she said.

Billions in exports

Samutsakhon is Thailand's seafood processing heartland and about a third of exports, worth over a billion dollars per year, go to the United States.

But a review next year of its record on trafficking in persons, including forced and child labor, could result in restrictions.

Suwatanachai Visetcharoen is manager of Talay Thai, Thailand's largest seafood wholesaler. 

He says U.S. limits on Thai imports would have a huge impact because it is their largest single export market.

"It would impact the seller and then the entire country's economy.  Some factories may have to close.  It would have a great impact," he said.

Unfair advantage

Activists say government efforts have stamped out blatant labor abuses at many large factories, but smaller ones still use undocumented children because they are cheap and not likely to go to authorities.

The Labor Rights Promotion Network says less than a third of Samutsakhon's 8,000 children of migrants go to school.

Director Sompong Srakaew says without government sponsored schools like this the problem would be worse.

"[Migrant] children who accompany their parents, if they are not supported to be able to go to school, they cannot develop themselves.  They will have no life skills and may cause social problems in the future.  Thailand is also now under close watch about child labor."

Vulnerable children, migrants

Head of Wat Sri Suttharam School Pisarn Nuntasae says about a quarter of the school's 300 migrant students are illegal and most who enroll end up dropping out to go to work.

He says about 20 percent end up returning to their home countries to try to become documented through a nationality verification process, but most do not return.

"Teachers followed up but were informed that they went back to their home [country] or other provinces.  The students did not come back into the school system again.  Only 5 perecent came back after nationality verification," he said.

Activists say the nationality verification program, while well intentioned, is cumbersome, too expensive, and opens migrants and their children to abuse.

Principal Pisarn says if the children were simply made legal they would not have to leave, could attend class more, and better avoid exploitation.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: anna from: south korea
December 21, 2012 10:06 PM
Children should go back to school not to the factories
what a sad story

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid