As this is our first report of 2013, I would like to begin by thanking everyone for their support in 2012. In the last year we were able to provide course services to 192 students studying from 18 different locations in Burma including Yangon Division, Mandalay Division, Kachin State, Chin State, Shan State, Mon State, and Arakan State. Forty-one of our students achieved a high enough score for university entrance on an official TOEFL test and are now applying for scholarships. We could not have made these achievements without your help and we are deeply thankful for your donations.
"I would like to thank you so much for your help in helping me improve my English and get a TOEFL certificate. I received a scholarship and am now studying for my master's in public health. My dreams are coming true and I could not have done this without your help. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!" -May Thet
This month, we are starting our first semester of 2013 with over 60 new students. We are extremely excited about the possibilities for this year. We are developing two new courses, upgrading our online learning management system, forming new partnerships and outreach initiatives, and as access to internet continues to improve, we will continue to expand our geographic scope to be able to offer our courses to more students in underserved areas.
Thank you again for your help and support. The next bonus day is on March 13th 2013 - all donations to this project via www.globalgiving.org will be matched by 30%! We would be delighted if you could share this date with your friends, family and colleagues and help us to encourage more kind people to support this project.
With our best wishes,
"The future of this country will be determined by the education of its youth." - President Barack Obama, University of Rangoon, November 11th, 2012.
In 2012 we have witnessed the beginnings of significant political and economic reforms in Burma. More international NGOs are moving in to the country and national and community based organizations are able to operate more freely, strengthening their capacity and impact. It is an exciting time, and this program works directly with the young dynamic change-makers involved in human rights, good governance, education, and public health organizations to name a few. Strengthening young change-makers' English abilities and providing them the tools and skills they need to access quality higher education and professional development opportunities has never been more important.
The Exam Preparation Outreach Program (EPOP) has achieved many significant outcomes in 2012 and has made multiple improvements to the program. Over 150 students have successfully completed our courses this year and 140 students from Burma are enrolled in the current semester. Eighty students have achieved a TOEFL score necessary for university entrance and we expect that number to increase significantly at the end of this semester. Many EPOP students are currently applying for university scholarships, while others are pursuing professional opportunities.
"I just wanted write to say thank you because I got a new job where I need to speak English. The EPOP courses really helped me to improve my English skills. Thank you to all of the EPOP staff for this opportunity." -Thu Thu Ko
"My studies with EPOP have helped me a lot and I began a masters program in Thailand and all my courses are in English. I just wanted to share my experience and appreciation to EPOP for opening me up to this new journey." - Chin
EPOP, through its online platform and local partnerships, is continually working to expand its services to those working outside of the major urban centers of Rangoon and Mandalay. This semester EPOP has been able to serve 20 new students in Chin State and Kachin State. With your help, we hope to continue to expand our services in 2013 working towards progressive change through greater access to higher education. We thank you once again for your kind support for this important project and look forward to hearing from you if you would like any further information about this program.
Development and Trends
It is a very exciting time for our university and exam preparation program. We begin a new semester on September 10th, and have over 140 new students studying with us and over 200 continuing students. Over the last few months, we made a concerted effort to expand our services outside of major cities in an effort to reach community development workers in Burma working in more remote locations where academic English and test preparation services were not available. Due to the hard work of our staff and the strength of our networks, we have been able to expand services into states and divisions inside Burma where we previously did not have a presence.
As an online and distance education program, our program is continually looking for new tools and technologies to improve our systems and create an active learning community to support our students. We have started started using Edmodo http://www.edmodo.com/ (a social learning network) as a way for staff to communicate with students and for students to communicate with each other. On Edmodo, students can post questions about their assignments that can be answered by other students or staff members. Sending a notification to an entire class is as easy as posting on Facebook. We are also continue to improve our module based learning management system (LMS) http://portal.epopasia.org/ to provide a more user-friendly environment.
Due to the widespread reach of the program, more students are gaining the academic qualifications necessary for university study than the number of scholarships available in a given year. Our Academic English courses not only build high level English reading, writing, and listening skills but also facilitate opportunities for critical thinking. For many NGO workers, being able to effectively communicate in English is necessary for work in advocacy or regional engagement. We have recently heard back from five students who just started new jobs at INGOs in Burma. They directly relate the academic English skills they learned in our program to getting their new jobs. We are continuing to improve our courses with the aim that university preparation also equals professional development.
We also love hearing back from students who are now studying at university:
"I am writing this letter to inform you all that I have received a scholarship and am now studying at Rangsit University in Bangkok majoring in international relations and development. Studying with EPOP has really helped me improve my English skills and has made it easier for me to complete my studies here. Thank you so much to you all for your kind help.If you get a chance to visit Bangkok, please stop by as well. "
Na Daw LawTOEFL ITP class student
Thank you for your support!
We would sincerely like to thank everyone who has supported us over the past year. We faced serious budget cuts over the summer and support from donors on GlobalGiving helped us make it through these cuts without cutting our core services. A little bit goes a long way in our program and every donation helps.
If you would like more information about our program please don't hesitate to contact me and visit our website at http://epopasia.org/.
Jacqueline Lee is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving who is visiting our partners’ projects throughout Southeast Asia. Her “Postcard” from the visit in Thailand:
Imagine living in a country where it was virtually impossible to access high quality, affordable education. Imagine that 30-50% of the population of this country lived in extreme poverty, and that education was a key factor in bringing desperately needed development to marginalized communities. This is the situation in Burma today.
Thabyay Education Network (TEN) works to solve this issue by providing access to higher education and professional development opportunities to people from marginalized communities who can make a difference. On May 8, 2012, I met with TEN’s staff, and learned about its programs. The staff I met all took time to show me the process, explain to me all of the background and steps, shared why they joined TEN, and the challenges they have faced along the way.
Michael, who runs TEN’s ‘low cost, high impact’ self-study university preparation program, explained to me how this program helps community development workers in Burma access international university education. “These individuals want to improve their skills so they can increase the impact of their work, but access to decent education is a major obstacle. They lack the necessary qualifications, such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), to be eligible for international universities outside Burma. However, to get these qualifications, they usually have to attend expensive private classes, which they cannot afford.” Michael continues, “When they enroll with us they get full support to self-study in their own time so that they can obtain the university qualifications they need."
“This program is just one piece of the jigsaw of services that we provide”, explained the Development Director, Quentin Hewitt. “Many of the individuals who successfully gain the necessary university entrance qualifications with us go on to receive a university scholarship administered by us. We also support the development of communities in Burma through providing curriculum development and teacher training, organizing professional internships for community workers, running schools and placing skilled volunteers with community-based organizations. Through our efforts, we would like to create a generation of motivated individuals with the knowledge, skills and networks to make a profound and positive impact on their country.”
After, I was able to meet two scholarship recipients of TEN. To learn more visitJacquelineInTheFieldBlog.
A Successful year so far!
We at Thabyay Education Network are thrilled to announce that in the last few months we've managed to raise $2,585 for our 'Help 200 students from Burma study for university' project bringing us up to $5,343 in total funds raised through GlobalGiving!. This new funding will give more students from Burma the chance to develop the language and study skills needed for entry into university. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all those who have donated and supported this great project and would like to assure you that these funds are having an outstanding impact both on student development and civil society.
Changes in Burma
The recent positive changes has triggered a realization among young people in Burma that acquiring education and building skills could have a tremendous impact on civil society. This is an incredible development. However, this great news also poses new challenges to our university preparation programs- the need for expansion to build the capacity of youth to become leaders in their communities and steer this new change in a sustainable and inclusive direction.
This new change is also evidence that projects like ours have paid off and will continue to do so providing your generous support continues. In the next few months, we hope to see a whole host of new talent entering universities across Asia and it will be thanks to you that this is happening.
Where your money goes
The funding received has helped to support 22 students who have received an overall TOEFL score of 500 or above. 500 is the minimum score needed to study in most university programs in Thailand and the Philippines. Out of those 22 students, 5 students received an overall score of 550 or above- qualifying to apply for scholarships at universities in Hong Kong.
We thank you once again for your kind support for this important project and look forward to hearing from you if you would like any further information about this project.
Thabyay Education Network
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