Stories of Strength
Emblems of Hope:

An arduous education journey for children in Myanmar

Support Burmese children today

Only about 25% of students returned to state-run schools after the coup.

Only about 25% of students returned to state-run schools after the coup.

Disruption & Disorder

Pandemic & The Coup

Difficulties of online learning

Since March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced Myanmar's civil government to close schools for several months. Shutting down these schools meant that students had to turn to online platforms.

However, not all students have access to online learning. In fact, over 80% of students are not equipped with sufficiently conducive learning environments. Many families do not have a computer, provinces have limited internet access, and even phone calls have time limits.

Further, on 1st February 2021, the military overthrew the civil government in a coup.

Despite the request for schools to reopen again in October 2021, students are refusing to return to classes that are supervised by members of the army as an act of protest against the military junta.

In fact, since the re-opening of state-run schools, only about 25% of students attended school.

Ethical Dilemmas of attending physical school after the coup

Children doing their morning prayers before the start of school in Kalay, Myanmar.

Children doing their morning prayers before the start of school in Kalay, Myanmar.

Teachers' responses to the Coup

As an immediate response and cry of defiance to the Coup, teachers went on strike and protested. Over 40% of teachers handed in their resignations. 

A teacher of our programme showing the children a Science experiment.

A teacher of our programme showing the children a Science experiment.

Parents' responses to the Coup

Parents are afraid to send their children to school. Children often have to traverse dangerous territories to get to school. Given the heavy military presence of the junta, parents fear that violence may break out along the journey to school.

Around 70 % of Myanmar’s population live in rural areas.

Around 70 % of Myanmar’s population live in rural areas.

Without proper education, children fall victim to

SCHOOL DROP-OUT
CHILD LABOUR

The youngest of these children struggle to return to classes, and the older students risk being married off, forced into work or being recruited by army militias.

In 2018, according to the International Labour Organisation, Myanmar had over 1 million children engaged in child labour with more than half of them engaged in hazardous work.

So, just imagine the sheer number of children engaged in child labour now.

Therefore, Children of the Mekong decided to launch the

Informal Classes Programme

providing an education outside of state-run programmes

This programme involves

6300 students and 300 teachers

in 29 locations

Contributing to our cause can really make a difference in these children's lives!

Contributing to our cause can really make a difference in these children's lives!

An Overview of the Programme

The initiative of informal classes has been coordinated by the Episcopal Commission for Education, a long term partner.

Between January and October 2022, 6,300 students from primary school through to secondary, along with 300 teachers, will benefit from this project which covers 29 different locations.

Objective

The ultimate aim of the project is to prepare children and youths to return to the classroom when the school system reverts back to normal, hopefully at the end of the mid-year holidays in October.

How will the programme be conducted?

Holistic education will be the emphasis of these informal classes. Teachers will give classes every day of the week. They will teach academic subjects (Burmese, English, mathematics). In places equipped with computers, an additional course on introduction to computers will be incorporated. The students' afternoons will be scheduled with music, art and crafts, and sports. Given the current political developments in Myanmar, we will also introduce a module on emergency response and incorporate supplementary courses such as nature and the environment, peace education, as well as values of education.

In Hpa An, where the villages are at risk of being attacked by the Burmese army, the teaching will be done more discretely. A van will travel from village to village and will only stay for a short time before moving on to another village.

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More about the beneficiaries

The majority of the 6,300 children beneficiaries of the classes come from remote villages and refugee camps and are often trying to seek shelter amidst the instability.

Young beneficiaries in refugee camps

Young beneficiaries in refugee camps

Young beneficiaries in refugee camps

The students come from six different areas, the main ones being in the east of the country (Pekhon and Loikaw) where the collaboration with local teams has been particularly successful and well-facilitated. The courses will be conducted in parish halls, locals' homes, religious-affiliated venues, local refugee camps, etc.

Young beneficiaries from remote villages

Young beneficiaries from remote villages

Young beneficiaries from remote villages

The other beneficiaries will be 300 teachers. They include former public school teachers who went on strike, students in higher education who cannot return to school because the university is closed, individuals in charge of boarding schools, etc.  These are qualified and competent individuals.

Meet Miss Lucrecia!

Miss Lucrecia is in charge of all the educational initiatives launched by the Burmese Bishops Assembly. Trained in the Philippines and in post for over 10 years, she knows the Burmese church and local contacts very well and is also familiar with the local context.

Miss Lucrecia is a determined lady who knows how to coordinate several large projects at once. Children of the Mekong has already run a variety of projects with her where she has trained the local managers. She is a trusted partner and a pillar of our action in Myanmar.

Across all the locations, Miss Lucrecia relies on teachers who are retired or striking, students in higher education, and priests. and nuns who are used to teaching and looking after children.

Do you want to support me and my friends?

Since 1958, Children of the Mekong supports children in Southeast Asia. Education is at the heart of our actions. In 2020,  22,300 children were sponsored and our work had an impact on more than 60,000 children who were able to access education, build their lives, and find employment.