Myanmar’s humanitarian crisis now has reached a disturbed state since the military seized power from the civilian-elected government back in February 1, 2021. The military takeover comes as Myanmar faces several escalating challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic to multiple ethnic insurgencies and increased violence and a deteriorating humanitarian crisis. The military is also fighting against newly formed armed resistance groups called People’s Defense Forces (PDF) around the country, especially at the heartland regions where majority Buddhist Burmese people live.
As a result, there are almost 1 million IDPs living in various within the country and over 5 million left to neighboring countries to escape from violence and mounting humanitarian crisis. Even those government K-12 schools reopened in November 1, 2021, only about 45% managed to open with the attendance rate of around 40%. Remaining 55% (approx. 5.6 million children) are technically out-of-school, combined with 2.7 million existing out-of-school children, and facing a complete learning loss at this moment.
Although lamentable news, this made the focus of our myME Box & PDC project all the more relevant, as we started to install and operate at three IDP camps and 7 ethnic communities and learning centers in the past three months. Currently, there are over 10,000 monthly learners learning through both online and offline “myME Box” platforms. We have also managed to provide several basic ICT and technical trainings on how to use the learning management system (LMS) to both teachers/facilitators and students from these 10 learning centers. Academic coordinators from our main office are providing bi-weekly virtual teacher trainings to around 25 local facilitators and volunteers on child-centered approach and blended-learning methodology.
Along with an online learning platform development, we’ve also setup multiple Facebook private groups according to the NFE learning levels in order for us to conduct online sharing and discussion sessions, coordination meetings and virtual blended-learning sessions with local and regional facilitators and volunteers.
Students are excited and eager to learn through the digital learning materials that we developed and digitized from existing open-sourced contents such as; Khan Academy, UNICEF, Asia Foundation, Room to Read, Third Story Project, and local non-formal education (NFE) curricula. They are having fun time learning through simple and entertaining user-friendly myME Box app (www.myMEBox.org) from their mobile devices.
Meanwhile, one of the biggest challenges that we’re facing at most of the community classrooms and learning centers is the lack of mobile devices for the students. We can only provide a few used tablets and smart phones at each learning center that most of the time students are taking turns to watch a video lesson and taking assessments. A couple of IDP camp and ethnic community learning centers connect myME Boxes with TVs where students can watch video lessons together, but teachers still have to rely on paper-based assessments due to lack of mobile devices. Even though myME Box can be run with a solar panel most of these remote and rural community learning centers don’t have electricity so students learn by candles and gas lamps.
Nonetheless, seeing faces of out-of-school and working children and youth light up when they first got a chance to connect with “myME Box” on the outdated mobile phones and used tablets was the most memorable learning experience for all of us! Innovation can sometimes come in many different forms, shapes, and places, even with limited resources and capacity to create new things.Attachments: