We funded the feasibility study for the capacity building project in 2018 and watched it grow into the full programme in 2019. The programme, named ‘SchoolPower’, is based in Ta Graeh Sub-district, Pa-An District in Karen State Myanmar.
The programme works closely with teachers, women, children and youth from 9 marginalised communities living in conflict-affected areas, where they are unable to get access to basic education, housing and healthcare, making them even more vulnerable to various forms of abuse and discrimination.
Friends Without Borders (FWB) Foundation was established in 1999 and registered as a non-profit organisation in 2008. FWB works primarily with refugees and displaced children living in conflict-affected areas in and around refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border. Since October 2018, FWB has been running the project ‘Capacity Building for Border Karen Schools & Teachers) in Karen State, Myanmar, with the support of PCF. The programme has been renamed ‘SchoolPower’ to gain recognition in the area. The project was initially based on the feasibility study and consultation conducted with beneficiaries during 15 September – 15 October 2017.
The ‘SchoolPower’ project is a run in cooperation between FWB and the local Karen Education Department (KED), which aims to strengthen the quality of life and well-being of approximately 660 Karen children living in 9 communities in the targeted areas and to be a model for similar efforts in other border areas.
Support is given in several ways
1. Providing training, workshops and ongoing support for the teachers
2. By topping up the salaries of teachers by 50% we enable the teachers to earn enough to stay in post and ensure that essential skills and knowledge is not lost.
3. Purchase of essential school equipment and materials enables a quality education
4. Providing and supplying small libraries and reading corners in each school
Goals and Results
1. The primary aim of the project is to strengthen the capacity of Karen teachers in the schools so that they will become a valuable resource, sharing knowledge and skills on various topics including child protection and education provision. A resource that responds to the needs of communities while helping to strengthen the schools to become sustainable local institutions.
2. To strengthen the capacity of the schools so that they have sufficient infrastructure, equipment, materials and policies that contribute to child protection, quality and relevance of education and to serve as sustainable local institutions with the participation of children, teachers and communities members.
3. To develop the quality of education and life of children and members of all eight targeted communities, for them to live a decent life with dignity.
The first year of the project has been successfully conducted, with all activities being implemented according to the initial plan:
1. Four capacity-building workshops and one evaluation meeting were conducted with 28 teachers, including the headmasters and school committee members.
2. 20 teachers from the eight schools directly benefited from four capacity-building workshops on the topics of situation analysis, library management, the right to health and the role of schools, basic healthcare and first aid, mental health and children of special needs, labour rights and Thai law, sexual and gender-based violence prevention, child protection policy, participatory teaching methodology and English language teaching methods.
3. Seven out of the eight schools received school material support and identified their needs for additional equipment, material and infrastructure support. One school did not require school equipment as they already had an existing sponsor.
4. All the eight targeted schools received support for and established their own reading libraries and first aid corners.