Khine & Ma utilizing computers for research
The following is a postcard from Charissa Murphy, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in Southeast Asia, about her recent visit to Thabyay Education Network in Myanmar.
Preparing future leaders of Burma, the Exam Preparation Outreach Program (EPOP) helps to get students of Burma ready to study at an international and university level. After spending some time visiting organizations throughout Burma such as Thabyay, the need for programs such as the EPOP is evident. The education system in the country focuses on memorization rather than on critical thinking and research. It is disheartening to pass schools and even homes where students are outside reciting over and over lines that they have to memorize for an upcoming exam. The deafening trance forced upon these students by the standard curriculum limits the people here from true development, thus limiting community advancement and reform.
Many of the students who complete the EPOP progress onto the full time residential Kant Kaw course in Yangon, which is taught in English, thus further preparing them for both 1)international university education abroad for some of the most passionate, underprivileged students and 2)a strong background in modern community development.
I met with some of the Thabyay staff at the Kant Kaw Education Center in Yangon. Organized and full of energy, the students of the Kant Kaw Education Center under the Thabyay Education Network are evidently excited about being a part of such a change-making and empowering organization. The Kant Kaw Education Center walls are lined with photos of smiling, enthusiastic, and motivated individuals and groups of students. As I study each photo, I feel excited about the future of these leaders. It is apparent that the focus here is both on individual, as well as group and community development.
Before meeting with the program leaders, I chatted with two young ladies, Khine and Ma, who were using the computer and printer resources. One of the girls, an almuni, still seems dedicated to the Foundation and active in its continued success as she utilized its resources and shared research tips with a current student. Their pride in being part of the inspiring and life-building knowledge gained through the programming beamed through their smiles when I asked, "How have you liked being a part of Thabyay?"
Classes weren't in session when I arrived at the center. The students had class in the morning, and in the afternoon they attended an Education Fair being held in Yangon. Providing opportunities inside and outside of the classroom for learning and growth is part of the culture Thabyay provides, and the EPOP is really a starting point for the students of Burma to develop their education and to help strengthen their communities.
As the Myanmar government is undergoing changes in many areas, including education reform, Thabyay desires to continue its reach, and seems to serve as an organization of strong respect and model-setting for alternative forms of education and leadership programming. The fully dedicated and enthusiastic staff wants nothing more than to be able to continue inspiring and opening opportunities for the youth of Myanmar. From all different ethnic and religious backgrounds, the students are learning to work together to build opportunities for themselves and others after many years of conflict and restriction. Not only are they learning to work together, but they're actually doing it! After my meeting at Thabyay, I met with three other alumni of the EPOP and Kant Kaw Education Center who are now teaching English at Parliament and really enjoy the opportunity to teach and help build their country together.