A path to learning.
Recently, I had the privilege of joining Kaung Nyunt, Partners Asia Special Projects Director, to visit two monastery schools near Yangon to learn more about our partners in the field. Partners Asia works closely with local Burmese NGO, EduNet, and through this partnership we improve education for children as well as strengthening communities, improving health and sanitation.
Although close to the city, in the first school the level of poverty was immediately evident. Despite the lack of resources and maintenance, I was struck by the commitment of local parents and teachers, who joined us for a discussion. I was particularly impressed by the vision and tenacity of EduNet’s staff. They have developed a strong over-all approach to address the needs of the community working from within and strengthening the monastic school program.
It is important to note that local children must pay fees to go to state schools, which many families simply cannot afford. The monastic school program provides an affordable alternative. I was traveling with a 2nd grade teacher and it was interesting that many struggles EduNet faces mirror those faced by educators abroad in the United States. Many of these challenges tie directly to availability of resources, magnified in Burma by wide-spread poverty.
The second school we visited was a little farther out, and appeared to have access to more resources and were very resourceful themselves. We visited a stand-alone one room library brimming with books as well as a small on-site health clinic. The children were provided with a mid-day meal, which contributes greatly to their general nutrition as well as their ability to pay attention and learn.
We met with the monks and learned that they are implementing an environmental/social enterprise which provides additional resources. They’ve set up a very small ‘factory’ where they convert used plastic bags in to the basic material to create alms bowls for monks. These bowls, which cost pennies to make, are sold for a small profit supporting the school needs. Very impressive.
Partners Asia Board Member