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Migrant School Closures Fuel Child Labor in Thai Seafood Industry

Thomson Reuters Foundation, Thailand, 20 October 2020 - Chit Su has been stuck at home peeling crabs with her grandmother since her school for Burmese migrants closed last year in southern Thailand. Even working together, they make less than a daily minimum wage.

Ten such schools in Ranong province shut after an August 2019 raid by Thai officials that targeted Burmese teachers without proper work permits, and advocates say the closures have driven many former pupils into illegal seafood industry jobs.

"This is hard work ... if I study I'll get to do a job that's less tough," said Chit Su, 15, whose name has been changed to protect her identity. "But now, if I don't help my grandma, we won't have any money."

She and her grandmother earn 240 baht ($7.60) a day — less than the 315-baht minimum in Ranong, and a drop in the ocean as they try to clear the family's 8,000-baht debt.

Chit Su is among some 2,800 Burmese children who have been affected by the raid on her migrant learning center, Ranonghtarni, which led to the arrest of more than 30 Burmese teachers and forced the school to close.

Nine other educational centers funded by charities and private donors in Ranong halted classes soon afterwards, fearing they could also be raided. One has since reopened.



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