May 2016, Mon State - Sharing teaching experiences and learning new practices in a collaborative way is reaping real rewards for teachers in Bilin township, Mon State, where for the first time ever, non-state and state education actors are combining their knowledge, experiences and skills for the improvement of children’s learning. Naturally, teachers and the pupils they teach are at the heart of these interventions.
Building on and leveraging UNICEF work on teacher training, the Peacebuilding Education and Advocacy (PBEA) Programme funded a ten-day Child Friendly Schools (CFS) training for 1,800 newly recruited Ministry of Education (MoE) teachers from Mon and Kayin States. This training, which was concluded on May 22nd, was a unique combination of state and non-state teachers who pooled experiences and drew new learning to boost the quality of their teaching practices.
Through consistent strategic advocacy efforts by UNICEF over the past four years and boosted by renewed PBEA, the non-state education participants, namely Karen National Union Karen Education Department (KNU KED) and Karen National Union Peace Council (KNU PC) teachers were included in the training for the very first time. This was also a sign of improved communication and trust amongst the main education stakeholders in both Mon and Kayin as a result of Education Sector Coordination meetings. In fact, through UNICEF support, steady engagement has been facilitated over the past four years between MoE and Mon National Education Committee (MNEC) allowing growing positive collaboration.
The inclusive CFS training was carried out with the aim of introducing the Language Enrichment Programme (LEP) to ethnic children in Mon and Kayin States. Eleven KNU KED and seven KNU/KNLA PC teachers joined together with MoE teachers for the first three days of training in Bilin and Kyeikmayaw Townships, in Mon State. With their MoE counterparts, the non-state-actor teachers got the chance to learn about child rights, child development and LEP lessons. The training (NSA) also provided them with a forum to share their schools’ experiences and needs against the dimension of CFS. This was a completely new experience for NSA teachers whose testimony speaks to the value of the training and its importance in transforming their teaching practices.
Naw Phoo Phoo Wai, 19, is a KNU KED teacher based in Kwi Lay village (on the border of Thaton and Hpa Pon townships) in Bilin. “This training gave me new knowledge for preparing myself to fulfil the rights of children by identifying their strengths and weaknesses,” she said. “I also learnt the importance of talking with my heart and need of giving equal opportunity to children. I have never been to such a training before and I am very glad to get new ideas to support my students.”
Naw Thalay Htoo, is 24, and teaches at Nawtayar Village School on the border of Kawkareik and Myawaddy townships. “I got a lot of new knowledge by attending this training. I know now about writing a lesson plan, preparing an interesting lesson and making a class to be a child friendly”, he assured. “It is a great help for me to learn what a child centred approach is and what the level of knowledge and ability of learning by age and physical development of child is.”
Kwi Lay on the border of Thaton and Hpa Pon Townships is the base school of Saw Khoo Hmwee, aged 24 whose comments echoed many of the training participants, “The education standard of our country has been low at the bottom level compared to others due to having gaps in cooperation”, he affirmed. “Now I believe the time comes to change. One of the progress is ethnic people will get the right to learn in their own language freely. This proves Myanmar education can have a positive change.”
Finally, Saw Eh Dar, 29, another KNU KED teacher from Kwi Lay village (on the border of Thaton and Hpa Pon Townships) expressed gratitude and enthusiasm, reporting: “This training also gives me new friends. I was able to learn Myanmar language more and know about CFS (Child Friend School practices)”, she said, “I learnt four dimensions of child rights, four basic principles for children and natural learning behaviours of children. That is why, I think this training is very valuable for me. I feel like I’ve won a lottery!”