UNESCO, Microsoft, True Corp and Thailand’s Office of Non-Formal and Informal Education launch ICT education project to empower learners at Thai-Myanmar border

 |   Cheryl Yab


BANGKOK, 24 NOVEMBER 2015 – Thousands of disadvantaged young learners along the Thai-Myanmar border will benefit from increased learning opportunities and a wealth of new educational resources as part of an initiative launched today by UNESCO Bangkok, Microsoft Thailand, True Corp and the Thai Ministry of Education’s Office of Non-Formal and Informal Education (ONIE).

The “Mobile Literacy for Out-of-School Children Project” draws on the respective strengths of each partner agency to make education more accessible and equitable for learners in often remote and under-resourced border areas.

Under the initiative, learning centres will receive Windows tablets pre-loaded with a UNESCO designed app tailored to the specific needs of learners in these areas. True Corp will also provide internet and digital media from True Plookpanya as part of the initiative, while ONIE has provided additional materials and training and will be key in the programme’s implementation.

UNESCO Bangkok Director Gwang-Jo Kim said that the project reflected the wider aspirations expressed by the international community with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in September, specifically Goal 4, “to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

“As the Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, UNESCO Bangkok is deeply committed to the Education 2030 Agenda and to ensuring that all available tools are utilized in its pursuit,” he said. “It is this commitment that has brought us here today to join our partners for the launch of this important and innovative initiative aimed at empowering some of our region’s most vulnerable learners… Under this initiative, [ICT] will be harnessed to strengthen existing education systems, knowledge dissemination, information access and effective teaching and learning systems.”

ONIE Expert on Educational Standards Promotion Dr Wirun Ninlamot, detailed his office’s multi-layered support for the project: “ONIE has provided teaching and learning materials for migrant teachers and learners, including teacher guides for non-Thai children of primary school age based on the Non-Formal Education Basic Education Curriculum, which were preloaded onto the tablets,” he said. “ONIE also supported the training of 40 teachers on the project’s ICT devices as well as ONIE materials.”

For Microsoft, the initiative aligns with the company’s wider efforts to harness the power of ICT to expand educational opportunities throughout the globe. In addition to providing Windows tablets for the initiative, Microsoft will also provide funding and training support.

Orapong Thien-Ngern, general manager of Microsoft Thailand, said: “Microsoft believes that technology is an important enabler to make progress in the critical area of education. Transforming education in today’s digital age requires an effective integration of technology into the classroom to help prepare teacher and students, regardless of circumstances, develop skills necessary for the future. Through our partnership with  UNESCO and the Thai Ministry of Education’s Office of the Non Formal and Informal Education, we are able to extend our commitment to education beyond borders – empowering educators and thousands of migrant, ethnic minority and stateless children to realize their potential and exceed every person and organization to achieve more”

Suphachai Chearavanont, Vice Chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group (CP) and President & CEO of True Corporation Plc (True), said: “We firmly believe that education is the solid foundation on which people can develop themselves and live harmoniously. CP Group and True are delighted and proud to collaborate with UNESCO to support the ‘Mobile Literacy for Out-of-School Children Project.’ True Group has always placed priority on education development by leveraging its strength in communication innovation and technology, as well as various media channels and content within the group to provide greater learning opportunities for teachers and students in remote areas of the country under its True Plookpanya Project. The initiative now covers 6,000 schools nationwide, including those located along the borders which are attended by Myanmar children.”

The Charoen Pokphand group through its “CP for Social Sustainability” policy will support the “School Lunch Project” to learners under the Mobile Literacy for Out-Of-School Children as part of a wider campaign that the organization has been running for more than 25 years throughout Thailand.

The UNESCO, True, Microsoft and ONIE collaboration aims to target 4,000 learners and 100 teachers. To that end, 400 tablets have been distributed to 20 migrant learning centres and community learning centres along the Thai border, covering at least 1,440 learners (with four sharing one tablet) as well as 40 teachers. Next year, another 700 tablets will be provided for 2,560 learners and 60 teachers. Expert-led training programmes will ensure that educators and students alike are able to make the best use of the ICT tools.

Education for Migrants, Ethnic minorities and Stateless Children: The website http://emescn.net/ features the teaching and learning materials installed on the tablets as well as data on migrant learning centres in Thailand.

For more information, please contact:
Noel Boivin
Media and Communications Officer, UNESCO Bangkok
Tel: 0-2391-0577
E-mail: [email protected]

Microsoft Thailand:
Pornravee Suramool or Yada Sintavarattana
Hill+Knowlton Strategies Thailand
Tel: 0-2627-3501 ext. 110, 213 or 081-735-9213, 081-694-9949
E-mail: [email protected], [email protected] 

True Corporation:
Wipada Isara
Expert, Corporate Communications & Marketing PR – True Group
Tel: 0-2699-2778
E-mail: [email protected]

Mobile Literacy for Out-Of-School Children Project
Learners and educators along the Thai-Myanmar border face immense challenges due in large part to a lack of resources. ICT offers powerful tools that can give learning centres in remote areas access to resources that would otherwise be out of reach. The “Mobile Literacy for Out-of-School Children Project” looks to tap into that potential.

UNESCO’s Migrant, Stateless and Ethnic Minority Children (EMESC) offline app will be among the resources preloaded onto the Microsoft tablets that will be distributed as part of this project.
The EMESC app includes over 1,000 books and teaching materials in Thai, Myanmar and Karen. There are two separate versions of the app for students and teachers. Both versions will feature three key components: school curriculum (basic education textbooks and non-formal education curricula of Thailand and Myanmar; books to develop learners’ reading skills in Thai, Myanmar and Karen categorized by level of difficulty; and reference books (dictionaries in the three languages).
The version designed for teachers will feature teachers’ guides, lesson plans, exams and worksheets, including flash content from OBEC and other resources.

More on True’s contribution
True Group will provide True Plookpanya equipment and educational digital media for 20 learning centers. Each set comprises: 1) a TrueVisions signal receiver, a 32-inch LCD television, a TV cabinet and over 50 educational channels; 2) DVD with digital content that covers eight subject groups, comprising Mandarin, Thai, English, Computers, Science, Society and Buddhism (Virtue & Ethics) for students in kindergarten 1 to year 9 levels; and 3) TrueMove H’s wireless Internet connection device. The educational support packages are expected to help inspire students as well as broaden their outlook through access to new knowledge sources.

First Teacher Training
The first teacher training session for the initiative was held in Tak province’s Mae Sot district from 17-19 August. Mae Sot is home to more than 13,000 migrant children out of about 400,000 in the country. Forty Thai and Myanmar teachers from 20 migrant learning centres and community learning centres in the district attended the training, which was supported by NGOs, the Thai Ministry of Education’s offices in Tak, Chiang Rai and Ranong as well as 30 local government officials.
Teachers were provided with Windows tablets preloaded with the EMESC offline app, as well as MS Office and top educational apps from the Windows store.
Microsoft Thailand led training sessions introducing teachers to the tablet, MS Office, as well as useful applications for migrant teachers and how to create teachers’ networks via Yammer on the first day of the training. Experts from True explained their satellite TV package, “Trueplookpanya” (“Planting Wisdom”), which includes 80 free channels featuring educational programming that will also be part of the Mobile Learning initiative, as will high-speed internet packages.
Teachers were encouraged to create ICT classrooms at their learning centres as well as to collaborate with other centres in their areas and pass on their knowledge to other educators.

Feedback from the first training session:

“I had never expected that I would use a tablet before. Now I’m excited to use it in my classroom. It will keep students from getting bored just hearing the teacher speak all the time. The tablets help me bring some variety to my lessons.” – Ms Nittaya, New Society Learning Centre, Tak

“Books and teaching materials in Karen are very hard to find. The EMESC app will be a very helpful resource in my teaching,” – Mr Saw Sho be, Thoo Mweh Khee Learning Centre, Tak

“I’ll record my voice to teach pronunciation in Thai. This can save a lot of time and energy for teachers” – Mr Danai Phongphusuwimol, BHSOH learning centre, Tak

“The tablets and TV resources open up the possibilities of what I can do in a one hour class. For example, I can ask students to watch video clips, then I can give them questions to answer before connecting my tablet to the TV to show the students how to use Fresh Paint (Microsoft painting program).” – Ms Tim, Soi 7 Learning Centre, Ranong