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A Future to Build: Burma by Women

by We women foundation
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A Future to Build: Burma by Women
A Future to Build: Burma by Women
A Future to Build: Burma by Women
A Future to Build: Burma by Women
A Future to Build: Burma by Women
A Future to Build: Burma by Women
A Future to Build: Burma by Women
Peer learning
Peer learning

YING LONG

Ying Long is studying a Masters in Educational Administration at Assumption University in Bangkok (2012 – 2014). We talked with her at the end of the semester and here is her account of her achievements:

Please tell us about this last semester, how did you feel it went?

“The courses I took last semester made me realize that I really need these skills in order to help my people. When I worked as a coordinator in a Boarding House for Shan refugee children, I had difficulties managing the staff and children, because I didn’t know the strategies of managing human resources. When I learnt about it in class, I began to understand how to manage and use HRM skills. I also learnt about different kinds of leadership styles and these leadership styles will help me be achieve better results when working in the field. Decision making skills and understanding the importance of communication skills will help me create a better educational environment as well.

I also learnt about curriculum development and implementation. This course made me to understand what defines a curriculum and that there are different approaches to develop a curriculum such as behavioural, managerial, systematic or humanistic approaches. I found new methods of teaching which I will be able to take back to Myanmar and use to improve education management in schools. Moreover, I have learnt the importance of analyzing teaching methods to improve teaching quality. In this course we learnt about researching teaching methods, teaching styles, teaching techniques and reconceptualizing teaching. This has given me a better understanding about what can be done by teachers and has made my motivation to improve our school system stronger.

What did you most like about your study so far? Are there any success stories or achievements that you would like to share with us?

I liked to study every subject that my university provided. Some of my classmates have their own schools in their country and they have a lot of experience and shared with the class. I have learnt a lot from them. When I become an educator I will know what I should include in my plans and what needs to be avoided. The experience from my peers is very valuable for me as I have never learnt from my classmate’s experiences before. By the end of this semester, I realize that I l have learnt a lot already. I am so excited to study my future courses. Also we had a chance to go on school visits and learn how schools are managed in Thailand.

How many students in your class? Where did the students come from? Do you like the way you are taught at your university?

There are between 17 and 27 students depending on the class. I met many friends from different countries and different nationalities. My classmates are from Cambodia, China, India, Iraq, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, The Philippines, Germany, Korea, Timor-Leste, Nigeria and U.S.A. All of my classmate are very friendly and help each other. I also learn a lot of about their cultures and countries. I like the way I learn in this university, because it was really different from how I learnt in Myanmar.

What difficulties and challenges did you face in your study? What kind of assistance would you like from us?

Everything is ok. But I would like to gain more skills and learn about being the administrator of a school. If We women can connect me with some school to do internship, it would be great.

How is your university life apart from study? When I started I was so excited and happy to be at university. I started to feel that the education system in Thailand (especially the international program) is very different from the universities in Myanmar. The way of teaching, the curriculums, the classroom structure and the students’ participation surprised me. In Myanmar, the instructor will teach and students need to listen only. Students can only ask questions when instructor allows. In my university now, the instructor gave us a lot of assignments and presentations. Students have to submit the assignments and do a lot of presentations about the subject we have learned in class. The instructor adds the information that students missed out or did not know how to explain. Doing presentation was my big challenge because I was very nervous to stand in front of people, but I have to make a presentation for every class. Presentations will be added to our grade, so I try my best. Actually I do not feel as nervous to give presentations in class now because have got more experience.”

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A school in Burma
A school in Burma

In Thailand, the school year is coming to an end and students are busy getting ready for their exams in March. All our students have been doing well in their studies. We would like to share their motivations with you. You will see that these women are determined to use their studies to contribute to their country's development. 

You have already provided us with a lot of support and we are very grateful. Some of these students are so close to finishing; they need all the encouragement they can get! If you wish to adopt one of these students, please donate here and contact us directly (pr@wewomenfoundation.org) so that we can inform you about your protégée's progress.

 

Nang Mawk  is enrolled at Ramkhamheang University in Bangkok studying a Masters in Educational Administration   commencing in  2011, and completing in 2013

 “It is crucial for the Burmese educational  system to improve its curriculum, and it is my hope to one day work for the Burmese Education Administrative Department so that I can make changes from within. Through a more creative curriculum, we can encourage children to think for themselves, share their opinions, and learn to follow their aspirations.” 

Required for Nang Mawk   to complete her studies:  $4,115

 

2 Naw Paw is enrolled at Assumption University in Bangkok studying a Masters in Counseling Psychology commencing in  2011, and completing in 2013. She is presently completing an internship with MAP, which is a compulsory part of her study program.

The event that most influenced my decision to pursue a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology was the massive destruction caused by the Nargis cyclone in 2008. I had a chance to work with people affected by this tragedy, and I witnessed the psychological problems they suffered as a result. Unfortunately, there were no trauma specialists to assist the victims because Burma suffers from a lack of mental health specialists.”

Required for Naw Paw to complete her studies: $3,555

 

Bawk Nu is enrolled at Assumption University in Bangkok studying a Masters of Management (Organisational and Change Management) commencing in 2012, and completing in 2014.  

“Many (Burmese) organizations are very resistant to change because of their conservative history and policies. Even when it is clear that an old policy or procedure is no longer working, too many directors drag their feet and make minor adjustments to the same old approach. And in cases where directors do seek professional help, it is often very difficult to find because the number of professionals who specialize in management and organization development is very low in Burma.” 

Required for Bawk Nu to complete her studies: $8,774

 

Nang Naw is enrolled at Chiang Mai University studying  a Bachelor of Social Science commencing in 2012, and completing in 2015.

It is my goal to continue to work to empower women, and to become a role model for the women in my community, and I need the status that higher education carries in order to support my goals. Those first years as a volunteer teacher and all of my experiences since then have taught me how much my people need encouragement and support, and it is this I hope to provide through my continuiing and improved work.

Burma is changing; we are still at the beginning of this process, and we need a lot of people, capacity and resources in order to bring about the necessary change. That is why I want to study now.  I want to be more effective, and better placed to bring more benefits to my people.”

Required for Nang Naw to complete her studies: $5,995 per academic year for the next three years.

 

5 Nang Noon  is enrolled at Assumption University in Bangkok  studying a Masters in Educational Administration commencing in  2012, and completing in  2014

“Volunteering with the migrant laborers, a constituency made up mostly of poor families from Shan state,    I came to realize that many of these migrants could neither read nor write, and that these deficiencies were a direct result of the poor education system in Burma. This lack of basic knowledge puts migrants workers  at a distinct disadvantage, as the only jobs then open to them fall under the ‘Three Ds’ – dangerous, dirty  or difficult – jobs in construction or cleaning, which carry very low salaries and often high health risks. If the workers were better educated, more opportunities would be open to them and they would better be able to support themselves and their families, rising from the vulnerable positions they are currently confined to. Witnessing the inability of some laborers to even sign their own name motivated me to continue my fight for equal education for all.”

Required for Nang Noon to complete her studies:  $7,794


Ying Long is studying  a Masters in Educational Administration at Assumption University in Bangkok  commencing in  2012, and completing in 2014.

“I see education as was one of the most important tools with which we can upgrade our lives, and this is why I am determined to improve the education system in Burma, and to share the knowledge that I have gained. Currently, our leaders don’t govern the country well, and there is no development, either at the community or national level. I see other countries where the people are well-educated, and where leaders govern well and development is stable, and it leads me to believe that if we were to improve our education, we could create better leaders, and then the country would finally be able to develop for the better.”

Required for Ying Long to complete her studies:  $3,842

 

7 Min We is enrolled  at Rangsit University north of Bangkok studying a Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy and Economics, commencing in 2012 and completing in 2015.

“In the past I have worked with Shan youth organizations and newspapers, reporting, training others in computer skills, and teaching in the camps on the Thai-Burma border. It is my dream after I have graduated to combine my past work experience and the theoretical skills I will learn during my degree, and create an open house for orphans. So many children are forced to live and survive without their parents, who have either been killed or imprisoned, and these children need a safe place to be, and they need an education.

Required for Min We to complete her studies:  $4,803 per academic year for the next three years

 

Ae Vi is enrolled  at Rangsit University north of Bangkok studying a Masters in Diplomacy and International Studies commencing in 2012 and completing in 2014

“It is my dream to return to Burma and provide training sessions for our people on human rights, sharing that which I have learnt with others, giving them the information that will create understanding and lead to effective political movements. Many people in Burma do not feel angry or abused, because they have no knowledge or understanding of their rights; they think their way of life is normal and therefore take their suffering for granted. It is the status quo, and so people don’t  feel angry about it, but just resigned to it. But by creating awareness, one can empower people, by informing them of their rights you can give them the tools and desire to change things for the better. These people want to be independent, they simply don’t know or understand how to make that happen, and this is what I want to change.”

Required for Ae Vi to complete her studies: $7,624 per academic  year


9  Mi Aye Win is enrolled at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok studying  a Masters in Health and Economics commencing In 2012 and completing in 2014.

“I have decided to pursue the course that I believe will be of most value to my country. Given that Burma is now going through a transformative period, there are opportunities to really affect healthcare policy. During this time of change and reform, it is important to try and ensure that healthcare issues are included in any policies which deal with poverty reduction. By studying Health and Economics, and gaining a greater understanding of how these two sectors work together in other countries, I will be able to help affect Burmese policy and help to improve the future of Burmese healthcare, ensuring that disadvantaged, poor and marginalized people.”

Required for Mi Aye Win to complete her studies: $4,113 per academic year.

 

10 Nong Hom is  at Webster University studying a Bachelor of International Relations commencing in 2012 and completing in 2016.

Required for Nong Hom  to complete her studies: $7,255 per academic year.

 

11 Yay Aye is enrolled at Chiangmai University studying a Bachelor of Social Science commencing in 2012 and completing in 2015.

Required for Yay Aye to complete her studies:  $2,571 per academic year.

Burmese migrant workers in Thailand
Burmese migrant workers in Thailand
Women empowering women
Women empowering women
Burmese parliament
Burmese parliament
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Nang Mo
Nang Mo

Nang Mo, a very ambitious and goal-oriented young woman with many leadership qualities, was one of the first students to attend our programs. Her family had to settle in an internally displaced people (IDP) camp along the Thai-Burmese border for fear of being arrested. From there, Nang Mo began working with many different non-governmental organizations within the IDP education system, but realized that, without state infrastructure and resources, the education system was completely underdeveloped. Her ambition is to change, not only the education system within the IDP camps, but also those in Burma as a whole. Because Nang Mo did not need additional support in gaining the required qualifications to be admitted to the University of her choice, she was directly awarded a scholarship for a Masters of Educational Administration course at Ramkhamhaeng University in Bangkok. She completed her course in December 2012.

  1. 1.       How did you meet We women, and what draw you to the organisation?

I was introduced to We women when I was working as a teacher in one of the internally displaced people (IDP) camps along the Thai/Burmese border. I especially like the way We women communicates with the students; the staff is very respectful. We women has a student-focused approach, and works on a one-on-one basis.

  1. 2.       Why did you choose to study Education Administration at Ramkhamhaeng University, and looking back, was your study time as you expected?

Before I started my studies, I was working in education as a teacher and volunteer. I felt that the education I received so far was not enough to help improve the education system in the IDP camps. During the Masters course, I thought I would learn how to teach and about teaching methods, but this was not the focus. Instead, I learned other relevant things, and during my summer holidays I also joined a course that taught me how to teach.

  1. 3.       What knowledge and experience did you gain from studying this Masters?

I learnt a lot at Ramkhamhaeng University, such as educational planning, the structure and foundation of educational organizations (I didn’t know about this before), and how to design curriculum. Because of this course, I’ve learnt how to write proposals, and, as a result, I have now successfully written a total of four funding proposals for the various IDP schools I work for.

I have been able to apply my new gained knowledge directly. For example, when the peace process started in Burma, the donor that had supported the IDP school I worked at, changed its focus to inside Burma. They withdrew their support, but the fighting continues and the people are still not recognized as IDP by the Burmese government. The result is that many have been left with less support. Thanks to my new skills, I have been able to reach out and get some funding. In addition to the theoretical knowledge I got from my Masters course, I learnt more about teacher needs and gained practical experience at the summer camp.

  1. 4.       How do you think you can apply this knowledge and experiences in the future? How has the course brought you closer to your ambitions?

I now feel I have both the practical and theoretical knowledge to enable me to work on a policy level. I have big plans and big ambitions. I would like to reform the education system in Burma, working together with the different ethnic groups to achieve this. But, as I have to be realistic, I will start smaller, by reforming the education system in the IDP camps. The first thing on my agenda is to advocate the community and current leaders in order to be able to change it.

  1. 5.       What has been the most challenging part of your studies?

My weak point, I would have to say, were group discussions. I’ve noticed this with other students from Burma as well. Compared to students from other countries, we are behind in this aspect. We never practiced discussions and also lack background knowledge on many of the subjects, making us feel insecure in a public speaking setting. This is a direct result of the poor curriculum and teacher-focused education system in Burma.

  1. 6.       Do you feel We women has supported you, and can you say how?

Definitely! I did not participate in the pre-uni program, but We women supported me throughout my studies. They found me a tutor to help with my papers. My tutor was especially helpful with my final paper; we met every week at the We women office. She also helped me find the right books that I needed in my study.   

  1. 7.       What is your thesis subject, and why did you choose it?

I did my research on: “How effective are the teacher trainings, and are they applicable at the camps?”

The results show that most teachers still teach in the traditional Burmese style: teacher-centralized. Also, from the education administration point of view, I noticed that the organizational structure and curriculum have a big effect on the quality of the teaching. I found that the schools are not well organized, have a weak curriculum, and often use a mixture of Shan, Thai and Burmese language materials combined together. I also noticed bureaucratic, top-down management, when participative decision-making would be much more effective. Finally, many schools focus on administrational aspects, like funding, but forget about the importance of the teaching itself. 

  1. 8.       What is your future plan, and what are your new challenges? How can We women support you?

My focus is to reform the education system and work on a policy level. Right now, We women is assisting me in finding an Internship placement in a renowned organisation with a focus on curriculum development, financial management in education and/or academic management. I don’t feel comfortable to go to Burma yet, so the Internship can be based in any other country.

  1. 9.       Do you have a word of advice for the students that are now in university or preparing to study?

For every theory you learn during your Masters, think about how you can apply this on a societal level. 

  1. Do you have something you would like to say to your donor?

Please be with us, and keep supporting us, until we reach genuine democratic change.

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We women foundation

Location: Yangon - Myanmar
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @We women foundation (@wewomenfound)
Project Leader:
We women foundation
Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai Thailand

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