Ms Neramon Biapa ('Kru Oy') is a teacher at and advocate of The Pha Lai mobile kindergarten. This is a mobile school that welcomes students from six ethnic minority groups. Access to early childhood education is difficult for hill communities, due to the cost of travel. But the school receives little funding from local governments and rely on foreign donors' support. In 2016, this external support was strongly reduced, and the school could have closed. Kru Oy, in addition to teaching and minding the students, also has administrative tasks, serves as the school janitor and cook, assists the local villages headman... When she learned that the school had to close, she thought: “At first, I didn’t know what to do [...]. Without this kindergarten, the children would never go to another kindergarten.”
On April 2016, Kru Oy attended a “Women Leaders Training”, as part of the project implemented by ActionAid Thailand and its partners and founded by the European Union. In addition to the skills building, the training was an opportunity for women leaders from different communities to exchange knowledge and experiences. Through this training Kru Oy also learned more about the work of the Tambon Administrative Organization.
“I realized that I actually knew very little about the TAO and their responsibility for helping to educate pre-school children. If I hadn’t attended the training I wouldn’t have known about this ressource.” Kru Oy said.
After she got back home, Kru Oy was very active in getting the Pha Lai mobile kindergarten into the educational support program of the local TAO. She worked closely with the Chiang Dao TAO project advisor and field staff of the EU founded project. Kru Oy learned about the process needed to gain funding for the school. She presented her proposal to the members of the school board, who all agreed with it since they recognized the unique value of the mobile kindergarten. Next, the proposal was presented to the full community in a public forum. After community approval, the proposal was added to the three-year development plan and the budget is being considered by the Chiang Dao TAO. All this coordination and networking by Kru Oy was successful. The grassroots can have bottom-up effect and do not need to wait for fundings to come down from the government as in the past.