Working together to provide educational opportunities for very poor children in Myanmar (Burma)

S4SK is a UK-registered charity, No: 1131559


“It is a good time to for the education sector in Myanmar. We have a new government with a people-centered approach. There are many problems for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to solve in order for the whole country to recover. The large number of out-of-school children is one of the more urgent problems that new government must try to solve.  According to the data of 2014 Population and Housing Census Myanmar, there are 10.9% never-enrolled-children and 24.8% drop-out students in the population of 5-17 years of age. Since these children are out of school, we need to provide alternative education for them.  Since these children have little or no experience of schooling, the most appropriate approach would be through Non-Formal Education (NFE).

According to UNICEF & CDEC, the international research literature and established NFE initiatives around the word recognize that governments alone cannot meet the many current needs of out-of-school learners (Cited in (DMER & CESR, 2016: NFE sub-sector Report No.6, National Education Sector Plan 2016-2012). At least for the foreseeable future there needs to be cooperation with governments.  Therefore, at H4SS, we look forward to cooperating with the new government to achieve quality education for our many out-of-school children.

The students of H4SS are mostly working children who have to earn to support the family income. Their rights as children are denied and many are vulnerable to exploitation and/or abuse.  Therefore, we see it as important to advocate for the establishment and implementation the proposed child law (at present in draft form), as soon as possible, which would be a great help towards protecting child rights.

It is our experience that poverty is the biggest obstacle to formal schooling or even to NFE regular attendance. Therefore, we will continue to advocate to the Ministry of Education for the establishment of an NFE policy which will bring these severely deprived children into education.  We feel that, to be effective, the policy should include three elements:

1. A child-centred approach to education which is accessible to children with no previous experience of schooling;

2. A benefit system which compensates the families of working children for the loss of income incurred through the child’s attendance at class;

3. Social work with the families to help resolve some of the problems that would otherwise lead to withdrawal of children from class.

The S4SK-S4SS approach includes all these dimensions and is, in our experience, the only way to bring these poor children back into education.  Without supporting the livelihood of these desperately poor families, their children cannot be expected to attend class regularly.”

                                                                                       Daw Aye Aye Thinn (Programme Director, S4SS)