Starfish Education is an integral part of Firetree’s DNA, being the program most directly connected with the work of Dick Haugland. Dick moved to Thailand in 2004 to start a program to help children from ethnic minorities in Northern Thailand learn how to read and write Thai well enough to access public schools. At that time, this was something almost impossible for Lisu, Lahu, Mon, Shan and Hmong children, among other groups.
Under Firetree's umbrella and thanks to the leadership of Dr. Nanthaporn Seributra and the 86 dedicated staff members, Starfish has evolved beyond Dick's most optimistic dreams and now improves the quality of education available to all children in Thailand.
Starfish’s mission is to provide all children in Thailand with an equal opportunity to access quality education through innovative learning programs and technological solutions that seeks to fill public education gaps through public and private collaboration. We strongly believe in preparing students with the necessary skills and competency for the 21st century.
To achieve this mission Starfish directly runs a school (which allows them to be fully aware of challenges faced by teachers and educators), professional development programs and edTech initiatives, while constantly advocating for the sharing of best-practices in the education field.
Starfish School is located in Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai and is a private non-profit school for students in kindergarten and primary level.
Dick and Dr. Seributra (, also known as "Prae"), who has worked for Starfish since 2007 and is now the head of the organization) have incubated learning innovation at the Starfish School to elevate the quality of education for the students since its inception.
One of Dick's significant legacies is the “3R Learning Innovation”, which is a collection of math, Thai and English curriculum for kindergarten and primary students. It emphasizes game-based learning as well as simple instructional design that is proven to be very effective with young children.
The school is also dedicated to the Problem-Based Learning approach. Students take ownership of their own learning by solving real-world problems which are relevant to them. The Starfish School is a model school for learning innovation; every year, it hosts professional development sessions and educational visits for more than 1,000 educators.
Starfish Academy provides 21st-century professional development services to public and private education institutes, school leaders, teachers and parents. It focuses on teacher professional development, curriculum, assessment, technology integration, learning environment, whole-school transformation including school administration, and last but not least, student learning and child development.
One of the leading programs of Starfish Academy is Starfish Maker. It is a professional development program to develop the capacity of public schools and teachers to implement a maker-space in schools to build 21st-century skills and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) learning. The Academy is currently working with more than 120 public schools throughout Thailand that reach 18,000 students and 6,000 teachers, and increasingly collaborate with the Ministry of Education in a variety of ways.
Starfish Labz is an online learning platform for both teachers and parents. It seeks to address 21st-century learning gaps among teachers and parents to provide the necessary skills and competencies for their children. We believe that teachers and parents must connect, share and build an active learning community to support and educate children in Thailand.
Starfish partners with leading universities and academic institutes to provide free of charge online courses, educational videos and Face-to-Face workshops to parents and teachers. This content focuses on child development, digital technology, real-world problems, STEAM, ethics & morality, social-emotional learning, health & wellness, and special education.
2020 has yielded a wave of momentum for Starfish Labz, with an increase in the need for digital education. The platform now has nearly 96,000 registered users and 270,000 visitors per month. As of June 2020, Labz contains 112 courses, 251 educational videos and 156 articles.
Starfish Class is another facet of Starfish's EdTech approach to learning management. It is a free classroom resource tool designed specifically to help teachers assess their students’ skills and manage their classrooms conveniently. Teachers can set up a student list, keep up with current tasks through a classroom activity feed, assess a number of skills for each individual student, share data and reporting online with ease, and collaborate with other teachers to keep track of student performance and activities. Starfish Class is now available at the iOS App Store and Google Play, free of charge.
Finally, Starfish Hub is a working space in Bangkok where partner organizations in the fields of education management, Edtech and education innovation can meet, share ideas, and work together to improve their programs. It has a variety of resources available for use, including a media production room, workspaces, meeting rooms, and even accommodation areas for those visiting for training or events.