9-year-old Nu Nu Wai would like to go to school full time and become a painter. But, as a child of migrant workers from Burma her parents cannot make enough money so she only attends 10 days a month. She spends the rest of her time peeling shrimp in a factory that employs five other children. Her teacher says she works there with her parents up to 13 hours per day.
The Labor Rights Promotion Network says less than a third of Samutsakhon's 8,000 children of migrants go to school.
Head of School says about a quarter of the school's 300 migrant students are illegal and most who enroll end up dropping out to go to work. He says about 20 % end up returning to their home countries to try to become documented through a nationality verification process, but most do not return. "Teachers followed up but were informed that they went back to their home country] or other provinces. The students did not come back into the school system again. Only 5 % came back after nationality verification," he said. Activists say the nationality verification program, while well intentioned, is cumbersome, too expensive, and opens migrants and their children to abuse.
Head of School says if the children were simply made legal they would not have to leave, could attend class more, and better avoid exploitation.