Burma/Myanmar: Education and practical skills
For decades, the Government of Myanmar has been spending less than 2% of the national budget on education, which has resulted in the poor management of the education system as a whole.
The lack of systemic provision of education combined with a high poverty rate in conflict-affected areas often requires children of school age to work in order to contribute to the household budget, instead of attending school. This also explains that many children only achieve a very low level of education; more than half of school-aged children drop out before completing the primary cycle.
PIN has supported the education sector in Myanmar since 2008 through primary school reconstruction following cyclone Nargis but also more recently in 2015-16 through the distribution of school furniture to 20 schools damaged by cyclone Komen and the construction of a temporary learning space in Rakhine State.
Child Protection Safety Net
At the beginning of 2015 PIN launched the "Child Protection Safety Nets Project", a largely EU-funded project that aims to address the issue of violence against children in upper Myanmar, i.e. Mandalay Region, Sagaing region and Shan State. Together with its local partner, the Monastic Education Development Group (MEDG), PIN is raising awareness and providing child protection training for monastic school staff, parents and community members as well as local authorities at township level. The establishment of school-based and community-based child protection mechanisms is also part of the project to help communities report, refer and solve child abuse and exploitation cases.
Support of civic and peace education in Kayin state
In the past, conflict between Kayin state has been dubbed the world’s longest civil war running since 1949. The preliminary ceasefire has been signed in 2012 followed by the signature of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement in 2015.
During the decades of violence and conflict, the distrust between communities has flourished. Moreover, following the start of Myanmar’s democratic transition, the country has witnessed the increase of communal violence.
The educational system has been profoundly affected by the years of conflict and had suffered from severe underfunding and lack of trained teachers. The civic and peace education is one of the pedagogical tools aimed at achieving social cohesion, promoting the bottom-up approach, participative teaching methods, and critical thinking practices in the education sector. Teachers play a key role in young people’s formation and help to develop the intercultural skills necessary for living in diverse society.
From 2017, People in Need has started to implement the project addressing both schools and communities. It aims at streamlining the peace education and engaged pedagogy in the school curriculum and providing communities with tools for peaceful coexistence People in Need together with local partner supports the teachers, community leaders, peacebuilding and human rights trainers in building the necessary skills and knowledge how to mainstream the topics of civic engagement, conflict mitigation, , human rights and peace. The project also aims at incorporating the expertise of the Child Protection Program. Within the framework of the project, small grants will be provided for the activities, which contribute to the creation a space for open dialogue and mutual understanding and empower communities. The awareness of human rights, tolerance and respect for fundamental freedom is necessary for strengthening the peace and enhancing the development of Kayin state.
Rehabilitation of Primary Education in Karen (Kayin) State
Karen State, which lies on the border with Thailand, is one of the regions of Myanmar that has suffered most in the last ten years due to the civil war. More than 36 thousand inhabitants have been driven out of their homes (internal-displacement.org), there is lack of community and productive infrastructure and the systematic provision of services like healthcare and education has become dysfunctional.
After the signing of the peace treaty in 2012, the security situation partially improved and People in Need was able start with its projects supporting education and hygiene awareness. Together with its local partner organization, we built or repaired five schools for 550 children, equipping them with the necessary facilities, as well as improving capacities of the local teachers to manage their school. In order to prevent water-borne diseases, children were trained in the Four Cleans (clean hands, clean food, clean latrines and clean water) and schools were provided with latrines, rain-water catchments and water filters.