Established in 2012 as an initiative to provide children in at-risk communities access to transportation to school, PASS (Providing Access to School and Safety) has turned out to be a simple yet very effective way to empower local village communities.
A bridge too far.
Within the hill tribes of northern Thailand, a student getting to school can often mean a one- or two-hour walk, riding an old bicycle up and down steep and bumpy terrain or, if you are lucky, riding a motorbike on its last leg of life. Then there is the cost of uniforms, books, stationery, and lunches.
Needless to say, all of this makes sending a child to school a ‘bridge too far’ for many families. Especially when an attractive alternative for parents is to send their children to take care of younger siblings, or to turn a small profit working in the tea fields, lychee farms, or planting and harvesting rice. In turn, older children become susceptible to trafficking and are at high risk for labor or sexual exploitation.
A short ride for long-term change.
In order to prevent this chain of events, PASS runs a school transportation service in collaboration with the heads of our partner villages. Children that have been identified as being in need of support become part of our school truck service, which ensures they get to school, come rain or shine. We currently oversee the operation of one bus serving three communities and transporting 28 children to school.
After an evaluation of each school, PASS often collaborates with MOSAIC to provide a subsidy for school lunches. This collaboration overcomes two major barriers children face that are necessary for them to succeed in school. Now, students have the means to safely arrive at school and to maintain a healthy diet in order to concentrate on their studies.
To encourage action at a community level, an important aspect of PASS is finding a responsible village representative to become the COSA bus driver. This not only promotes self-regulation, but also ownership of the project within the community. Through this method, PASS is an example of how we bring “Prevention through Education” into fruition.
Don’t pass them by.
We have seen how this project helps to strengthen communities, as more families are likely to keep their children in school. In the next school year, COSA aims to expand PASS into Mae Hong Son. Due to the secluded nature of this province’s rural location, COSA hopes to invest in two modes of transportation, one for water and one for land.
In upcoming months, COSA will be assessing costs and feasibility for two new schools to have access to transportation. Currently, we are aware of 60 children that desperately require assistance. COSA aims to implement PASS in Mae Hong Son before the next school term begins.
This project is highly dependent on third party contributions. If you are interested in becoming a PASS sponsor to help us acquire transportation and to hire drivers in Mae Hong Son’s hill tribe villages, please get in touch with us at email@example.com. Help us reach our goal of increasing the PASS Project’s reach from 28 children to at least 88 children for the year of 2015.