OUR GOAL is that young people experience improved educational prospects, long-term socio-economic wellbeing and are proactively contributing towards the development of their local comunity.
Children in Chin State live in a neglected and impoverished region of Myanmar and face a myriad of challenges in their attempts to seek a basic education. The area is remote, the landscape rugged and the population scattered. A chronic lack of investment and recurrent natural disasters have led to the highest rate of household poverty in Myanmar (58% living on less than $1 / day, 2017 src: UNDP / World Bank), poor infrastructure, food insecurity and poorly functioning health and education systems.
The education system currently excludes rural, poor, ethnic minority children due to language barriers, location, 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 often receive no teaching in their ethnic language.
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. Last year, less than 5% of students passed their Year 10 exams in Chin State. 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.
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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 97 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, a number of graduates have returned to Chin state 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.
We currently have 40 students being supported through their Year 11 & 12 studies, as well as students studying at university. Intent on success, these students have overcome many challenges even to reach their colleges, including escaping war torn areas on foot. We believe these motivated and committed young people will have a powerful impact on their communities when they graduate.