Children at a school in Kyar Inn Seik
On 25 November, 2014 I participated in a 3 day training of community-based teachers in Kyar Inn Seik Gyi Township, Kayin State. The teachers showed a lot of enthusiasm for learning about the principles of Child Friendly Schools and Peacebuilding Education. At first participants seemed nervous about how they would be perceived by their peers and whether they would have the capacity to absorb all of the information the training module provided. The UNICEF staff reassured them that the training was going to build on the capacity and knowledge they already had in order to help them improve their teaching skills and by the end of the training the teachers were much more open to sharing their experiences and the challenges they had been facing in their classrooms.
An observer from the education department of the Kayin Ethnic Armed Group came to observe the training on Peacebuilding Education to make sure there was no bias towards different stakeholders in the region. This training focused on conflict at the micro level – looking at potential conflicts within the family, between families, and at the community level. All participants reported that these types of conflict occur on a daily basis and there was a need to address this through education. Participants also shared their experiences of traditional ways to address these conflicts, usually by referring the case to the Head of the village. It was interesting to discover that people living in rural and remote areas sometimes find it difficult to embrace new ways of addressing conflict because they see this as a threat to their culture and traditional way of doing things. But by the end of the training the participants seemed convinced that UNICEF was there to support and build on traditional systems and the training became very active.
A teacher leads a class having received training from UNICEF
This community has shown ownership and commitment to ensuring education for their children, it was also great to see that the community had nominated a number of women to attend the training and become teachers in their villages, helping to promote gender equality at the community level. I left with high hopes that UNICEF’s teacher trainings can help communities in remote, rural and conflict affected areas to provide quality basic education to their children.
UNICEF’s programme to provide basic education to internally displaced children in Kachin and Kayin States is supported by the Government of Germany. UNICEF estimates that this programme has reached around 50 per cent of the conflict-affected children who are in need of primary education in Kachin and Kayin States. The programme aims to increase education opportunities for school aged children in vulnerable townships and provides a range of interventions including essential education supplies to teachers and students, construction and rehabilitation of schools and temporary learning spaces, teacher recruitment and training, and psychosocial support to young children.