In spite of political unrest, refugee camp community leaders, teachers, parents, and youth have pushed for the continuation of education as a source of stability, hope, and as a long term investment towards a better future. The Institute of Higher Education (IHE) of the Department of Higher Education (DHE), a branch of the Karen Refugee Committee Education Entity (KRCE), have established five higher education institutions in five different refugee camps on the Thai-Burmese border:
The Northern Karen Junior College (NKJC)
The Pu Taw Memorial Junior College (PTMJC)
The Kaw Lah Junior College (KLJC)
The Tanawthari Junior College (TJC)
The Mae Ra Moe Junior College (MRMJC).
Over the last 13 years, there have been 2,665 graduates. Through their education, these refugee and migrant youth have been empowered with the skills they need to make a difference within their community.
Graduates of these schools take a path in the field of education, health, or serve in leadership positions within the refugee camps or in their respective states in Burma. Additionally, students are able to financially support their families and be more self-sufficient rather than solely rely on food rations and donations handed out by NGOs.
Each school offers either the lower division program, upper division program, or both. The lower division program utilizes a two year general studies curriculum, while the upper division program allows students to specialize in a field of their choice: public health, education, or community management.
Northern Karen Junior College (NKJC)
Northern Karen Junior College is located in the Mae La Oo refugee camp (northeast of Thailand in Mae Hong Song province). The NKJC offers a two-year lower division education program for secondary graduates in the camp as well as those from the Karen State. Additionally, the college offers the Karen Youth Leadership and Management Training Program (KYLMTC), which enables incoming students to directly specialize in leadership management without having to further their studies in the upper division program. 83 students are enrolled for the academic year, and currently the college is run by 13 teaching staff members.
Mae Ra Moe Junior College (MRMJC)
Mae Ra Moe Junior College is situated in the Mae Ra Moe Karen Refugee Camp (Mae Hongson Province). It was formerly known as the Agriculture Studies Programme (ASP), which was established in 1998. At that time, the program’s emphasis was only on the teaching of agriculture and animal husbandry. In 2008, the school came under the IHE education system, and the name was changed to the Mae Ra Moe Junior College (MRMJC). The MRMJC offers the two-year lower division program. 85 students are enrolled for the academic year, and currently the college is run by 13 teaching staff members.
Pu Taw Memorial Junior College (PTMJC)
Pu Taw Memorial Junior College is located in the Mae La refugee camp in Tak Song Yang district, Tak province. The PTMJC offers the lower division, upper division program, as well as a Teacher Certification Program that enables students to specialize in education without having to complete the lower and upper division program. 269 students are enrolled for the academic year, and currently the college is run by 16 teaching staff members.
Kaw Lah Junior College (KLJC)
Kaw Lah Junior College (KLJC is located in the Umphiem refugee camp in the Prop Prap district, Tak province. Apart from providing the lower division program, the school also offers specialized streams in Public Health with the collaboration and assistance of community health organizations such as Mae Tao Clinic, Burma Medical Association, Backpack Health Worker Team, and Karen Department of Health and Welfare. 59 students are enrolled for the academic year, and currently the college is run by 8 teaching staff members.
Tanawthari Junior College - Tham Hin refugee camp:
Tanawthari Junior College (TJC) is located in the Tham Hin refugee camp. TJC is a newly established school that came under the IHE education system, offering IHE lower division program to high school graduates in the Tham Hin camp. 38 students are enrolled for the academic year, and currently the college is run by 10 teaching staff members.