Impact of covid-19 and military coup on education in Myanmar
Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020 and the military coup in 2021, Chin State's education system has been completely shut down due to a public boycott of education, teacher and school staff participation in CDM (Civil Disobedience Movement), and constant fighting between the local defence forces (PDF) and the military regime. In the 2021-2022 academic year, when the military government opened the schools approximately 2,259 students took the matriculation examination. The pass rate was just 26.78%, which was the lowest among all states and divisions.
Aim of the Freedom to Education Programme
The aim of the Freedom to Education Programme is for students from Chin State to have the opportunity to access educational opportunities which will enable them to have improved career prospects and return to contribute to the socio-economic well-being of their communities.
Learning new skills
English language skills - While many of the students understand English some are still struggling and are finding it difficult to understand their lessons. However, because the students are not in a community where English is widely spoken, they still have a long way to go before they are fully equipped with English skills. To help with this the team will be helping the students with their English skills until the end of the programme.
Leadership - to enable the students to learn leadership skills, the team selects a representative from the boys' and girls' groups. If there is a disagreement, the representative must resolve it between them. Everyone is allowed to lead devotions, small events, or school activities.
Financial management skills - The team provides a monthly allowance to students by dividing it according to items on the budget, which means that the money they receive is to be spent specifically for communication, transportation, stationery, and so on for the intended purpose. The team also allows the students to buy vegetables by giving them cash. They must record all expenditures, which makes them aware of a family's income and expenditures. The team advised the students that money should be spent on basic needs rather than wants if it is to be spent wisely. Many students have found this simple practice to be extremely beneficial, and they have begun to apply it to their daily expenses.
Despite the difficulties they have faced, the students completed their first-term examination in July. The exam was passed by 50% of the students. Two of the FEP students were ranked second and third in the entire school. Only 17 students out of 108 passed all of their subjects. That means that half of the students who passed the exam were from FEP, an amazing result.
Freedom to Education Programme - Other Key Activities
Pastoral care and support
The education team provides pastoral care and support to the students daily. The team ensures that the student's academic performance, critical thinking skills, and spiritual and social well-being improve.
Community Leader Talks
The community leaders' talks play an important role for the students as they all will be taking up some roles in their communities. The team occasionally invites the community leaders such as local church leaders, community activists, school officers, etc. These talks provide crucial opportunities for the students to learn leadership skills, communication skills, the importance of active listening, and working as a team.
Despite the FEP team's career counselling program, many students are unsure of which careers to pursue after graduating from high school. As a result, the team will provide more career counselling to students over the next four months to help them understand what courses they should take after completing Class 12.
When it came to choosing a career, many students follow in the footsteps of their peers. Parents also frequently make career decisions for their children without considering their interests, believing that they know what is best for their children.Themajorityofthe studentshavenoideawhatacareerentails.Therefore,providingacareercounsellingprogrambecomes one of the most important keys to future success.
Plans for the next 6 months
As the time is approaching for writing the final examination, the students need more support academically. Hence, the team will mainly focus on the academic improvement of the students and provide intensive coaching, guidance, and monitoring.
The team will conduct a scholarship information-sharing session and the team will help for applying scholarships for all the students. The career counselling program will be conducted again to provide clear advice about their career, and it will be explained to them in more detail.
The team will search for suitable universities beforehand so that the students do not get confused about where to study and what to study after passing the class 12 examination. The team will also monitor the students in their studies by conducting tests at least once a week.
The students will also perform community activities to relieve stress related to their studies. They have also attended a stress management workshop which has helped them greatly to manage their stress levels. The community talks will be implemented for the students by inviting motivational leaders, church leaders, and counsellors.
I have made huge changes after studying for two years. I become social, making a lot of friends, have full confidence in English speaking… and am more self-reliant as my parents are far from me and I have to make a decision most of the time. My favourite subject is Mathematics. Since I was young I love playing with numbers. I owe a lot to my donors and supporters because I would not make it this far without your support and love… I appreciate your selfless donation and support.
Shein (name changed for security reasons)
Thank you so much for your support. Through your giving, you are giving a future and a hope to Myanmar's next generation of young leaders.