Education that Leads to Nowhere: Thailand’s Education Policy for Children of Migrants

Thithimadee Arphattananon


In July 2005, the Thai cabinet passed the resolution that allows migrant children access to free public education. This paper uncovers education experiences of children of migrant workers who study in Thai public schools, concentrating on the Thai government’s education policy towards these children. Data are drawn from an ethnographic study conducted between 2010 and 2011 in two provinces of Thailand—Ranong Province and Pattani Province. Qualitative research methods such as interview, observation and document examination are used to obtain data. School practices such as the admission process, the placement of children into classes, classroom instruction, and supporting systems are examined. Interactions between teachers and migrant children as well as between migrant children and local children are observed. The results show that while allowing migrant children to access public education, the Thai government does not have a policy to promote or to persuade migrant parents to bring their children to schools. A policy to follow up on children of migrants who drop out also does not exist. Additionally, school practices and curricula do not match the circumstances of the children. This article argues that Thailand’s current education policy allows children of migrants to access public education, but does not help them to proceed to higher levels of education.


Multicultural education, Children of migrants, Education, Thailand

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