Our sister Foundation, Starfish Education Foundation, was named after an education program developed by our benefactor, Richard Haugland in Thailand. The infamous starfish parable emphasized a view of philanthropy based on helping individuals solve problems rather than focusing on the whole community, an approach now increasingly critiqued in philanthropy.
The initial goal of the Thai program was to help children from ethnic minority groups to access public schools and not drop out due to their lack of knowledge of the Thai language. To do so, Richard Haugland designed innovative curricula to teach Thai to children and Starfish operated its own early education centers throughout Thailand.
As a testament to effective learning and evolving approaches, Starfish Education Foundation now focuses on educational systems change informed by past experience: their Starfish Maker project aims to bring Problem Based Learning into public schools with an initial partnership with the Thai government to implement makerspaces in hundreds of public schools and their Learning Management System, Starfish Labz, is a complementary and innovative online learning platform for teachers and maker educators across Thailand. The Starfish centers are now open to students from local schools as makerspaces. One center operates as a demonstration school for educators throughout Thailand while maintaining strong ties to the local community.
As a result, Starfish has recently been nominated as one of the Model Schools for Education Innovation by the Chiang Mai Provincial Education Office for its Problem Based Learning approach and the curricula originally developed by Richard Haugland. Starfish is now led by our Board member, Prae Seributra.
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