How to improve education in rural Myanmar

How do you find out what students and teachers in remote rural schools in Myanmar need?

Ask them, of course! And PCF’s partner, Friends Without Borders Foundation (FWB), does just that.

Background

FWB has been working with Karen children and teachers on the Thai-Burma border since 2004. They mainly work with the refugees or displaced children in conflict-affected areas. Providing support in these situations is difficult, so they first make sure they learn what the real needs and challenges are. To do that, FWB speaks directly with the schools, teachers, children and communities to ensure their voices are included in the design for any future programmes.

This doesn’t come without challenges, however.

The situation in Myanmar is complex for humanitarian organisations to navigate (to say the least). For us to speak in totality would negatively impact the work we are currently doing. While we do not wish to minimise the severity of the situation, we are obliged to keep our focus on where we can make an impact and where we are making an impact.

What is clear, however, is that the situation for those in Myanmar who are in need is far from stable. This is particularly true for the rural, remote, poor, and often displaced and insecure communities who still need basic support.

This project

Fortunately, many of the communities we support understand the value of education and are anxious for their children to receive opportunities that they never had themselves. This study will cover eight schools, 623 children and 40 teachers, and will provide an accurate assessment of the status, needs and challenges of the schools in the Ta Grah region.

Once this assessment is finished, programming that is tailored to the individual community’s specific needs will be developed to fill any gaps identified.

Because a good teacher knows that their own learning is never finished, requests for capacity building often come from the community — particularly from teachers. There are always new teaching methods, curriculum improvements, and other tools to learn.

To accommodate this community’s requests, FWB developed a plan for a yearly one-week-long capacity building session to be held for teachers from the eight schools. In addition to these formal sessions, there will also be two weekend sessions where teachers and representatives of school committees from the eight schools can meet up, exchange lessons learned and follow up on the more formal capacity building sessions.

All together, this assessment will result in a stronger, more flexible, and greatly improved educational system that will benefit Ta Grah schools and communities for generations to come.

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