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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states 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.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid