South-East Asia

Preserving cultural diversity

Children are curious, have a thirst for knowledge and like to meet other children. The first day of school is always a major event. This is no exception in South-East Asia. However, because children from ethnic minorities speak a different language, not all of the children here understand what the teacher is saying. We make it possible for children in Laos, Thailand and Myanmar/Burma to attend school in their mother tongue.

South-East Asia is home to many different ethnicities. In addition to poverty, people belonging to ethnic minorities often experience a range of disadvantages. For example, children can barely understand their teachers, as teaching is given solely in the official national language. 

In addition to official school work, schoolchildren in our projects are also taught local knowledge and crafts in the local language. For example, children learn how to make a fishing net or weave a basket, thereby allowing them to contribute to the family income. Without this knowledge transfer, many parents would not send their children to school, as the families are reliant on the children’s help at home.


Mother-tongue learning

Over 70 different languages are spoken in Thailand. In rural regions in particular, the children do not understand the official national language – and therefore the language of teaching. We make it possible for them to be taught in their mother tongue, so that they can still benefit from going to school. 

Teachers learn new teaching methods

To make teaching more attractive and to facilitate the transfer of knowledge to children in the best possible way, workshops are held to provide the teachers with appropriate basic and advanced training.


Jirakorn, 11

Jirakorn is pleased to have learned how to weave fabrics at school. She likes weaving and is proud that her mother can sell the colourful fabrics at the market.

Meet Jirakorn

Tsupol, 13

Tsupol lives in Thailand’s mountainous northern region and belongs to an indigenous minority. When he started school, he didn’t speak a word of Thai, the official language of teaching in Thailand.

Meet Tsupol

Your contact person

«Mother tongue education is central to children's learning. That is why we advocate for multilingual schooling in Southeast Asia. »

Brigit Burkard
Programme Director South East Asia

Do you have any questions or suggestions about our work in South East Asia?