The United World Schools Wan Kaung School is now in the beginning stages of construction after facing several challenges, including heavy monsoon rains and transportation difficulties. The building team has started working on the school that is projected to be completed in December.
Currently, 78 students consisting of 43 boys and 35 girls are enrolled in the school. A local teacher from Wan Kaung Village has been recruited and trained to teach the Myanmar curriculum. UWS works directly with the Ministry of Education in Myanmar, which is key to its sustainability and ensures that this is a viable, long-term project. Throughout the period of construction, these children have been receiving their lessons in a Community Learning Site (CLS), which is an old local building that has been transformed into a temporary learning environment and includes whiteboards, desks, games, learning books, and materials required to turn the building into a school teaching up to 50 students.
UWS aims to build more schools in Myanmar so that more children can have access to quality education, which is the Sustainable Development Goal #4. UWS has informed us that they are facing troubles since the villages in Myanmar are small, therefore building big schools is not cost-effective. “We are overcoming this challenge by developing community learning sites,” they stated, adding that it has been very successful, and they are willing to apply it to Nepal and Cambodia based on the pilot in Myanmar.
Mr. Sturmey, one of the three supervisors of the UWS after school activity, gave us an in-depth update of the progress made, saying how this project “bridges the divide between the world of Wan Kaung Village, and development and what we do in the classroom. This year we are especially raising awareness of the program throughout the school in the ISY classrooms. It’s a long term project, and we won’t see progress for a while―it takes time to build up momentum―and I’m sure that people are wondering, ‘what’s happening with UWS?’ Things are happening, and it’s important we get the foundations right. If we get it wrong, the kids and people at Wan Kaung will suffer.” He also talked about how the UWS project puts the Sustainable Development Goals into perspective, “for example if we do a unit on SDG number 4, quality education, that’s a golden opportunity as an educational institution to bring an authentic example of the Wan Kaung…”
There is a lot stored in the near future for UWS, including a visit two weeks later to ISY by Dr. Kay Khine, the country director of this project. She spends most of her time working in the Shan state, where most of UWS’s work is taking place. It is important to note that UWS’s vision is to “teach the unreached.” The Wan Kaung village had been one of the places that were unreached by education, and because of the partnership between ISY and UWS, the future of this area is bright as the kids are finally receiving an education.
Future plans involving UWS include a trip for ISY students to visit the site at the end of January 2020. As well, the second sport orientated big fundraising event called the Sports-A-Thon, which also took place last year and raised a lot of money will be happening soon, on December 7th. Last year was the first year of the UWS program, which required the school to raise $30,000 for the Wan Kaung School to kick off their construction process. After the first year of the project, ISY needs to contribute $10,000 every coming year to pay for the maintenance of the school. All proceeds from fundraising events and donations will go to the Wan Kaung School. According to Mr. Sturmey, there is also a monastery in that village that has the potential to become a center for learning as well.
As Mr. Sturmey stated, “Quietly, behind the scenes, we are making progress.” ISY’s partnership with UWS has been a rewarding experience as we know we are making a positive impact on others’ lives. Although students themselves haven’t been able to go to the site yet, already hearing how far the project has come along and how our contributions have made this possible certainly spark more inspiration and determination for the future. Global will keep you updated on upcoming trips, fundraisers, and construction milestones of the UWS project.
Published by Global