Wednesday, November 16, 2016

My internship with UNICEF in the Southeast

By Hsu Lei Nandar Oo

Mawlamyine, November 2016 - My name is Hsu Lei Nandar Oo and I am a student at Mawlamyine University. This year, I have been selected for an internship with UNICEF Mawlamyine Field Office for 3 months. I have never dreamed of working for this organisation. Although I have just started, the experience and things I already learned are extremely valuable.

I had heard that UNICEF and its partners work to help our primary school children receive a quality education. Now, I got the evidence how effective this work is. UNICEF ensures that all children have the chance to learn fundamental life skills in the classroom. Without an increase in the education investment, children will be trapped in poverty and won’t be able to the society’s future. Through this work, which includes ethnic language policy, education management or teachers trainings, we can support many children particularly the most vulnerable ones.

My very first field visit was in  Be-Lin Township with UNICEF Deputy Representative, Paul Edwards, and the field office education team. We visited Myin-Thar monastic school in Be-Lin where there are ten teachers and over 100 students, most from highland areas. They left their native villages and they have been stayed in monastic schools. The boys fear being recruited as child soldiers and girls are afraid of getting married. The teachers here have benefited from UNICEF - supported teachers’ trainings, namely capacity building around schools and effective use of recreation kits. As a result, these children can have a brighter and safer future.

We also visited a Mon National Education Committee (MNEC) school, which is a Non- government school, where children learn in three different languages- mother tongue (Mon), official language (Myanmar), and a foreign language (English). I also learned that UNICEF supports head- teachers at Union, State and Township levels to increase their capacity for evidence based schools planning and budgeting.

Through an equity and inclusive approach, UNICEF also contributes to social cohesion among communities. Teachers from both kindergartens and primary schools have already attended UCA, SITE, Life skills, LEP trainings and so on. These trainings promote their teaching skills and management skills which will have a positive impact in the classrooms and in students’ learning.

Now I also understand that children attend kindergartens or early childhood development (ECD) centres, as we call them- will have a better participation in the primary school, in terms of attendance and performance.

During the same field visit, I accompanied UNICEF Deputy Representative and the Child Protection Team and understood what the organisation does to strengthen policies and interventions needed to protect children. I learned what UNICEF is doing with Point B NGO, based at Mawlamyine University. A group of students collected information about vulnerable children, namely street children, working children and children who drop-out from school. Some children had to leave school due to their financial problems. For those who want to come back to school, UNICEF has been supporting the Non Formal Primary Education (NFPE) programme. In 2016-2017, there are 1034 students attending 56 NFPE centers in Mon State. On the day of our visit, some of these children had been invited by Point B to participate with the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) and UNICEF in discussions about their life situations and challenges- they face to achieve their rights to health, education and protection.

Thanks UNICEF for helping us to have such kind of activities and change children’s lives I am really glad to observe and to participate in those activities. I hope to be involved in other events soon. I can’t wait for that.

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