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The Mae Tao Clinic’s own school, The Children’s Development Centre, began as a small facility for the children of staff, and now has around 850-1000 pupils and several boarding houses.
Like the other migrant workers in the Mae Sot area who were settling and starting families, by 1995 the staff of MTC also found themselves needing day-care services for their own children. As a solution the MTC Nursery Care program was started, initially caring for approximately 20 children. The next logical step was a primary school and so the Children’s Development Centre was established in 1997, with 5 staff members. This was located in a house across the highway from the clinic, providing more space for both work and play for the students. Although not officially, the CDC was already acting as a boarding facility as well, caring for 10 children by 1999.
The next major challenge came as these children completed primary level schooling, thus a separate high school was established in 2005, with 2009 seeing the first grade 12 graduating class. In 2009, a new school facility was inaugurated with all the children from primary to grade 12 in the same facility.
The Child Development Centre has continued to provide education to displaced children from Burma and children of migrant workers living in Thailand. The CDC continues to work on accredited education for CDC students through the Thai Non-Formal Education (NFE) programme for students from grade 5 to 12. The General Education Development (GED) programme has continued with the BEAM foundation in Chiang Mai for 2016. Primary level students have had an opportunity to participate in the Partnership Programme with Campie School in Scotland. They have been able to share their experience through letters to each other. The Grammar School in Scotland has requested to form a partnership with CDC for Secondary and Higher Education students. Post-secondary students have formed a partnership with Umphaung Wi ayakorn (Thai School) to exchange culture, language and learning skills. CDC and Suwannimit Foundation have signed an MOU to manage the Thai learning Programme in CDC for the quality assurance and Thai teacher’s accreditation. Mae Tao Clinic’s strategic plan outlines the need for pathways for the students while at school. These pathways include options for children while in Thailand. We have adopted a policy of being multilingual and multicultural, which gives the children the opportunity to learn to speak and read Thai. There are entrance tests for Non- Formal Education which gives them an accredited Thai education which then can give them the opportunity to access further Thai education. One hundred and five students were enrolled in the Non-Formal Education programme. Eight hundred fifty eight students are enrolled in the Child Development Centre from nursery to grade 12. We were very glad to meet with our alumni recently to hear where they were. The people we met were all happy and successful. Between 2010 to 2016, 52 students from CDC, schools in the refugee camps and other migrant learning centres were sponsored to participate in the GED programme. This allows them grade 12 equivalency which in turn allows the students to access universities. Twenty three of these students are currently enrolled at university and one has already graduated with a Bachelor of Education. Naw Gold Rain, previously a student at CDC, is now a teacher at CDC.
(Updated on 7th of September, 2017)