Whilst the goal of the MEDG is to target all schools, it will seek to target those that cater for the most disadvantaged students in the first place. MEDG has recently started working to bring children back into education who are currently not attending school. These children belong to the most disadvantaged groups that MEDG works with. The main groups that are considered disadvantaged are listed below:
(a) Children Living in Poverty
Traditionally monastic schools do not charge any fees (for further analysis refer to the Baseline Study of Monastic Schools conducted during the first year of the project) and therefore appeal to parents who are poor and cannot afford to send children to government schools. Current World Bank poverty analysis suggests that people with a daily wage of under $US 2.5 (per person) fall below the poverty line. In general, people who are poor often have only daily wage jobs, an irregular income or have no job whatsoever. Increased marginalisation and vulnerability can be brought about when poor families (parents and children) are further affected by chronic disease, discrimination (e.g. as a result of HIV infection), children being orphaned or coming from a single parent family. Children with limited or no family support, including working children or children who spend much of their time living unsupervised (e.g. on the street), can also be included in this category.
(b) Linguistic Minority Children
Children who do not speak Burmese as a first language are at a disadvantage in the current education system. Whilst there is some progress in the development of mother tongue language education policy, it will take some time for good practice to develop. Monastic schools have greater flexibility than their government counterparts in the delivery of mother tongue education and monastic school leaders and teachers in some ethnic areas have been quite active in promoting this. Monastic schools also cater for children from ethnic minority areas where there is limited schooling opportunity through enabling both boys and girls to become novices in central schools or by offering other boarding facilities.
(c) Children in Remote Areas
Children in remote areas where there are no schools are obviously disadvantaged in terms of educational opportunity. Often such children are also members of an ethnic minority group. Remote areas however can also be in relatively close proximity to major cities and in non-ethnic minority areas but still have limited access to school.
(d) Displaced Children
Children in Myanmar are displaced for many reasons and, as a result, suffer from a disrupted education. Displacement is often related to poverty and can also include children moving with parents who are seasonal workers or internal migrants or children who have been affected by armed conflict or natural disaster.
(e) Disabled children
Disabled children are amongst the most marginalised and hard to reach population in the country in terms of access to education (and a range of other issues. Disability is often hidden and is not well understood. As part of the work of this program it has been important to develop a working definition of disability that teachers and school administrators can understand. It includes: