The education system in Myanmar currently excludes rural ethnic minority children due to reasons such as their remote locations, the language barriers, poverty, and curriculum content. Pre-school coverage in Chin State is severely limited and the levels of supervision and quality of teaching vary widely. Children aged from three up to five years often receiving no teaching in their ethnic language. These problems continue into primary school and, combined with high levels of household poverty, contribute to a school drop out rate of 18% by 11 years of age.
In rural areas, the high poverty levels, combined with lack of access to educational services, and exams often set in non-ethnic languages, contribute to only 8% of children passing their final exams at age 15, compared to 17.8% in urban areas. Specifically, in March 2017, under 2% of students passed the year 10 exams in Lailenpi town in western Chin State where Health & Hope Myanmar’s work is based. This dismal pass rate has contributed to weaknesses in local drivers for change, as only students who matriculate from year 10 are able to secure formal employment or go on to further education.
OUR GOAL is to increase the number of skilled people who are willing and able to take the lead in community development initiatives.
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We believe that education is crucial in building long-term sustainable development in Myanmar. Better education serves to raise levels of social awareness, and cultivates leaders who can be catalysts for bringing about a fairer society.
The Freedom to Education Project (FEP) provides scholarships and support to individuals who have passed their year 10 exams. This support enables young people to continue their education, and go on to university.
Since 2009, this project has supported 87 students from rural Chin State to undertake college and university education. Successful graduates from this project have returned to Myanmar over the last few years, some taking up work as civil servants and in the private sector. However, the majority of graduates return to work with Health & Hope Myanmar. Recently, these have included three doctors, three nurses, two teachers, and five graduates from the fields of business and science.
Children in rural areas of western Myanmar face challenges in their attempts to access education, including:
- rugged geography
- a scattered population
- natural disasters
- food insecurity
- teaching in non-ethnic languages
- a lack of qualified teachers
These challenges, combined with the highest levels of household poverty (73%) in Myanmar, have led to a school drop-out rate of 18% by Year 5 in Chin State, and only 8% of children passing Year 10 in rural areas, where poverty is greatest.
Health & Hope offer students the opportunity to pursue higher education. We look for individuals who carry a vision for using their education as a means for helping their communities. They are provided with accommodation, subsistence, mentoring and support towards educational fees.
In 2016, 74% of our Year 12 students passed their final exams, and our medical students achieved between 86-91% in their year-end assessments. This was a significant achievement for students coming from subsistence farming backgrounds, many with illiterate parents.