Author Topic: Isan youths' development stunted as parents go to Bangkok  (Read 550 times)

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Offline thaiga

Isan youths' development stunted as parents go to Bangkok


Eight-year-old Thai girl (left) sits with her grandmother at their home in the village of Baan Dua in Ubon Ratchathani province. She and her five-year-old brother have been raised by their grandparents for almost their entire life after their parents left their rural village to find work in Bangkok. (AFP photo)

With a bit of luck she will see her mother twice this year.

The little girl has been raised by her grandparents for most of her life after her mother left their rural village to find work in Bangkok.

A tide of internal migration has left 3 million Thai children growing up in similar circumstances and experts fear the phenomenon is incubating a social crisis.

"The research is starting to show that this will affect the children's future and therefore the future of the country," explains Aree Jampaklay of the Institute for Population and Social Research (IPSR), at Mahidol University, who has led pioneering studies on the issue in conjunction with Unicef.

Grinning widely as she plays with a top knot in her hair, she says she is happy with village life in Thailand's Isan region.

But the smile fades as the conversation turns to her family setup, an arrangement shaped by economic realities in a rice-farming region where work is scare and wages low.

"I like being with my grandparents, but I miss my mum. I can't go to see her and she can only come here every six months," she says.

Her mother has an office job in Bangkok and sends back monthly remittances of around 3,000-4,000 baht.

Poor but populous Isan has for decades seen its families split by migration. An estimated 30% of the region's under-18s are the children of migrant workers, most of whom leave for several years at a time, returning only for annual holidays.

The exodus "has been normalised" by society. But it is laden with risk. Their research indicates that Thai children living without their parents are prone to being poorly nourished, and suffer from developmental and behavioural issues.

Those factors are particularly damaging in Isan, where deprivation has been compounded by an ongoing drought. The region has several of the country's poorest provinces and its schools already turn out some of its worst-performing students.

Baan Dau in Ubon Ratchanthani province is much like any other Isan village: the tallest building is an ornate Buddhist temple, chickens flit between yards while a tiny shop serves a close-knit community cocooned by rice fields.

It is also nearly completely devoid of working-age adults.

Most have gone to where a taxi driver can make several times the monthly wage of a farmer.

"Maybe 80%, 90% of the households have grandparents raising the children," says her grandmother, 70. "There is no work here, so my children have all moved to Bangkok."

more on this story: Bangkokpost
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