The Politics of Social Entrepreneurs in Access to Education: A Case Study of Shan Burmese Refugees in Northwestern Thailand

Muennig, Peter A.; Su, Celina

This paper examines social entrepreneurship in a Burmese refugee community as it strives to provide primary education to its children. Despite facing discrimination and fearing Thai authorities, our project leaders exemplified social entrepreneurship, most notably building social capital and agency within the refugee community, and surprisingly resolving intractable problems. Key processes included helping parents claim ownership of the program, depoliticizing the children's access to education, and encouraging high expectations of school performance. Social relationships built an internally sustainable project at virtually no cost and established bridges across antipathetic parties. We argue that the social entrepreneurship model is useful in contexts where poor communities cannot access non-governmental organizations or government agencies.


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Academic Units
Health Policy and Management
Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
November 14, 2016