Compulsory education is free in Thailand. It is also too expensive for many slum dwellers to afford. This paradox exists because of the many school items which must be paid for, such as books, uniforms, and school-bags, before a child can attend school and because of the many additional charges raised by schools to compensate for inadequate government funding.
This means that many slum children cannot go to school. Often they will work to contribute to the family income. In addition to missing the education and social benefits of going to school they may be vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and succumbing to addiction.
The Duang Prateep Foundation's educational sponsorship programme is currently helping over 2,300 young people from poor families to take their place in the state education system. Most of the children live in the Bangkok slums, but some are living in rural areas. Some schools in rural areas are also receiving financial assistance from the DPF so that they can help pupils who are in need.
Children are studying at all levels and there are presently over 200 sponsored students at university, or undertaking diploma level studies at vocational schools. The DPF wants sponsored children to stay at school as long as possible, as higher education is one of the keys to helping poor families raise their living standards.
Sponsors make an annual payment to the DPF. This is placed in an account from which all the expenses of the child's education are met.
Sponsorship programme staff also manage an emergency fund to which sponsors are invited to contribute. It enables the sponsorship section to respond immediately to help any of the sponsored children facing a crisis - one of the sudden emergencies that so often overtake families living on the margins.
Fire is a too frequent hazard in the slums but also illness, injury or bereavement can all mean the family being left without a source of income. The emergency fund ensures that affected families will obtain assistance and sponsored children will be able to continue in school.
Duang Prateep Foundation staff are aware that financial support for education is only part of the picture. DPF staff also arrange regular activities for both sponsored children and their parents. Weekend activities enable sponsored students to learn new skills, make new friends and grow in self-esteem. Camps outside Bangkok provide memories for students which will last a life-time. Parents are also invited to regular meetings, where they can learn about aspects of child-raising or about topics of wider interest. The underlying message behind all the games, outings and camps is the fact that education is important and is worth making sacrifices to achieve.
Many families are anxious for their children to attend school. Often they approach the DPF for help; sometimes we hear about children needing sponsorship from friends, neighbours or teachers. In all cases our Sponsorship Section workers visit the children at home, get to know their family background and ensure that those most in need are put in touch with our sponsors. Sponsors receive a school and financial report every year. They also receive a letter from the child they are sponsoring.
The programme provides an appropriate means of maintaining a personal contact with a slum child and her/his family, and of making a contribution to slum development. We often experience how much slum dwellers desire that their children obtain a good education.
Sponsors may see for themselves the direct benefits of their help, either in letters, photos and grade reports from the sponsored child or by coming to visit her/him in Khlong Toei.
If you would like to become a sponsor,please email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Scholarship Application Form
Here are some photos of Sponsorship Ceremony, 2016