Education for All (Myanmar)

by Health and Hope UK
Education for All (Myanmar)
Education for All (Myanmar)
Education for All (Myanmar)
Education for All (Myanmar)
Education for All (Myanmar)
Education for All (Myanmar)

Just a few weeks ago, 96 students who have been part of the Education for All project this year completed their final exams. Although we won't receive the results for a few months, dependent on the COVID-19 situation, the students came away feeling positive and hopeful. Education for All has given them a unique opportunity to pursue their dreams. 

One of the students who was part of the programme this year is Esther. She is 18 years old, and one of six children from a small village in Chin State. For the early part of her education, Esther studied in her village with all classes being taught in the local Mara language. However, after Year 8 she needed to move to Secondary school, where all her lessons were conducted in Burmese. “When I got to the school I couldn’t understand. I was learning the language rather than the subjects. I don't know how I managed to pass my Year 9.” 

Esther moved on into Year 10, which is when students sit their main school exams. Even though she had a better understanding of the Burmese language, the syllabus was too demanding: “The school was very good, but I lacked basic education from before, and I just could not pass my exams.”

In 2018, Esther found herself in the same year as two of her younger sisters but unable to pass the Grade 10 exams. “Just before our results came out, a teacher called Peter from Health & Hope visited our village and told us about the Education for All school that helps students who need to repeat their Grade 10 year. I started to hope that, if I did fail my second attempt, maybe I could join the Education for All school.” 

But when the results came, and Esther discovered that she had failed a second time, her father told her that she needed to stop her studies. She was now 17 and the financial burden is often too much for families to continue to support children in school when they could be working or helping on the family farm. 

At that time, wonderfully, one of Esther’s cousins came to visit and said that he would sponsor her to continue her studies through the Education for All project.

“I was so happy, and so thankful to God. Coming to Education for All is a great privilege for me. I am so thankful to Health & Hope for providing me with this life changing opportunity. In the future, I want to be a nurse. In my village, there are no professional nurses to look after people. I have seen many people suffering from illness. There are a few traditional birth attendants but they cannot help patients with serious diseases, and some patients die from common illnesses. If I can pass my matriculation, I would love to be a nurse, and work for my people as much as I can.” 

We recently put together a short video showcasing the Education for All project, which can be viewed on our website

As we eagerly await the results from this years' exams, the education team are already busy making plans for next year. Of course, the present global crisis is causing some concern for the vulnerable communities in the region with schools currently closed in the region.  However, we still expect to start the next years' Education for All project in June. 

During the school break, our teachers are supporting the huge logistical efforts required in our response to the COVID-19 crisis.  You can read more about our work to reach 140 villages across western Myanmar on our website

Thank you again for your continued support and partnership with us in this project - we are truly grateful for every individual who has chosen to give to our work, especially at this challenging time. 

If you have any questions about this or any of our other projects, please do get in touch with me via email: philippa.wilford@healthandhope.org.

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Janette conducting a biology training session
Janette conducting a biology training session

A few weeks ago, Janette, a long-term friend of Health & Hope, travelled from the UK to spend a month with the education team in Lailenpi. Janette is a retired a Head Teacher and has a wealth of teaching experience which she has been using over the last 12 months to support the launch of the Education for All project.   The project is supporting just over 100 students from 30 remote villages who have failed one or more of their grade 10 exams earlier in 2019.

Janette's first visit to Lailenpi took place in January, where she was planning to spend 3 months to support the establishment of the Education for All project. Unfortuantely, due to escalating violence in the region, her trip was cut short.  Janette continued to support the education team remotely over the following months, sending through resources, helping with lesson planning and the assessment of the students. She was then able to return for a month at the end of 2019. 

Alongside running workshops with the staff team on specific subject areas, such as Biology and English, Janette also conducted training sessions in different teaching practices, learning styles and classroom management. She also took some time to interview some of the students to get their feedback from the project so far. 

Feedback from the students on the first 6 months of the project was very positive, with many of them commenting on how they appreciated the classroom environment and that the teachers were patient with them. One student said: "I like the teachers, they are fun but kind. We are not beaten. I have never encountered a school like this!" 

When asked why they decided to take part in the Education for All project one student said their parents were sick and could not support them, so they needed to complete their education in order to work and look after their family. Another student said that if they passed their Class 10 exam they will be able to be a good role model and give hope to others.  For most, the project provides a unique opportunity to learn English and have a second chance at passing their grade 10 exams. 

However, for all the students, the clock is ticking.  The Myanmar government are introducing a new curriculum into grade 9 this year which only gives these students two years to pass their exams.  Forced to take five subjects in English, 80% of students in Chin State failed their exams in 2019, and while there are positive changes ahead in the new syllabus, thousands will be left behind, locked out of an educational system that has failed them. 

We're hoping to make a significant improvement in the pass-rate of students in the Education for All project this year, but we'll need your continued support to invest in the school and help as many students as possible.

We look forward to reporting back to you again in March 2020 when the students will be getting ready to take their Class 10 exams. Thank you for your ongoing help and financial commitment.

Students enjoying lessons at the new school
Students enjoying lessons at the new school
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At the end of June, the first students arrived in Lailenpi to enrol in the newly launched Education for All project. Over 100 youth from surrounding villages, who have previously failed their Year 10 exams, signed up to receive tutoring for the next ten months at the recently built Health and Hope Training Centre.

The project was piloted last year, supporting 202 students part-time, who were studying in two schools in Lailenpi town. The team focused on providing additional tutoring in English, Maths, Physics and Biology.  The Year 10 exam results are just out and there was a significant improvement...

As a result of the pilot project, 24% of students passed their exams compared to under 10% two years ago. The 2019 result means that an additional 21 students passed the Year 10 exam in comparison to 2018. Whilst the pass rate in Chin State continued to be the lowest for the whole country, students in Lailenpi achieved a 4% higher pass rate than the state average (20%), with the highest state in the country achieving 37%. For a remote rural town, this is a significant achievement, almost matching the pass rate of students from the state capital, Hakha.

The new students enrolled last week for full-time education with the first classes taking place on Monday. one of the graduates of Health and Hope's Freedom to Education scholarship programme, is now a class tutor, supporting this project.  She wrote this short message to us during enrolment: 

"Yesterday when I was receiving the students for Education for All, unexpectedly I met one of my year 10 classmates. Incredibly, he has been trying to pass class 10 since 2010 when I was also taking the same exam.  As soon as I met him, he said to me: "I really need your help to pass my year 10". I am so touched by what my friend said to me. I really hope and pray that this project will be a blessing for many students. Please can you thank everyone for all of their support to start this project and a big thanks to all our generous donors. May God bless you all."

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Last year we ran the Education for All pilot project. Four Health and Hope staff members, who had recently graduated from our Freedom to Education scholarship programme, partnered with local schools to fill gaps where there were teacher shortages.  They delivered the English, Maths, Biology and Physics curriculum to over 200 students.

We're delighted that there was a significant improvement in the exam results this year, with the grade 10 pass rate changing from just 2% two years ago, to 24% in 2019!  While this is still low compared to western standards, it is a great leap forward for the local youth and families of rural Chin State.

The historically dismal pass rate in the rural areas has contributed to weaknesses in local drivers for change, as only students who matriculate from Year 10 are able to secure formal employment or go onto further education.  It has also left a deluge of despondent youth in rural communities who have repeatedly attempted the grade 10 exams and failed. 

Building on the success of the exam results and new teaching methods, Health and Hope Myanmar are launching a tailored Education for All project this year for students who have previously failed their year 10 exams.  Focusing on these 'repeater students', the project will provide full-time schooling and individual study support for up to 100 youth, with the aim of radically changing their life opportunities over the next 12 months.  

The education team are currently interviewing potential students who will commence their studies in the next few weeks, with the project launching in the newly built Health and Hope Training Centre.  It will run from June 2019 to March 2020. 

We're really grateful to those that have supported the launch of this project. We look forward to updating you again in a few months' time once the new students have settled in!

 

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First teaching sessions
First teaching sessions

It's always exciting, but a bit daunting starting a new project.  This one in particular.  The challenge is huge...  In 2017, only 2% of students passed their Grade 10 exams.  Just eight out of 502 students.  Without gaining a matriculation certificate at Grade 10, students and their families are locked into a cycle of poverty.

Our focus over the first few months of this new education project has been twofold. Firstly to integrate our staff into the existing education system and secondly to undertake an external review of the challenges.

It's been a delight to see staff welcomed into both the government and church school in Lailenpi where our work is based.  Lailenpi is nestled in the mountains overlooking the western border of Myanmar (Burma).  It is extremely remote, with the nearest town at least 10 hours drive over treacherous mountain roads. 

Despite the newly built school building, there are no resources to support learning or books available in the classrooms, other than those passed down from prior students.  Traditional teaching methods are by rote, promoting memorisation rather than enquiry and understanding.  The class sizes are large with up to 50 students and many subjects (including the sciences and maths) are taught in English, despite most teachers having no confidence in the use of the English language.

Our staff are native to Lailenpi, however have at least five years experience studying outside of the country and are fluent in English.  They are currently providing classes in English, Maths, Physics and Biology, working to promote understanding amongst the high school students and those studying to retake their grade 10 exams.
 
We've also been delighted to host Janette, a retired educational consultant from the UK who is currently undertaking a review of teaching methodology and the challenges facing students and parents.  In addition, Janette has been hosting English classes and running teacher training workshops.

As the pilot continues, we’ll be following a process of listening, acting and learning as we try to identify the most appropriate interventions to take the project to scale.

We look forward to updating you on our progress in our next report!

Chris Jones 

PS We've just released our latest video update on our work. If you would like to find out more about Health and Hope, you will find the video at the following link: https://healthandhope.org/our-work/video
Teaching at the church school
Teaching at the church school
The newly built government school
The newly built government school
Educational support from a UK based professional
Educational support from a UK based professional
One on one support
One on one support

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Health and Hope UK

Location: Chorleywood - United Kingdom
Website:
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Project Leader:
Chris Jones
Chorleywood, United Kingdom
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