Saturday, February 16, 2013

Almost Into the Field

In Mandalay, Myanmar our Stanford Alumni Association guides introduced us to the staff of Community Partners International. They provide sub-grants and capacity building to 18 local NGO's. It was wonderful to learn about their work riding the bus with Dr. Pyea Mon Thaw who is their Reproductive Health Program Coordinator. I gather that the original plan was to go into the field to see one of their projects, but lacking travel time we went to their modest Mandalay office housed at the Phaung Daw Oo Integrated Monastic Education School.

There we distracted classrooms of happy, curious children. Their smiles imply they are achieving their mission.

"Our Priority Goal

Here! The Children can pursue their studies cheerfully,
1. Without charging entrance fee..
2. without collecting monthly fee or yearly fee....
3. Without receiving offertory for teacher. Any fee is not charged!"

Josh Noble of the Financial times volunteered at the school in 2003 and wrote a detailed article after visiting recently. The school serves 394 students who otherwise would not be in school. It houses 150 children, many from Cyclone Nargis.

We heard singing and recitation methods similar to what I heard in rural India. 

After they graduate high school some of the children enter a pre-college program where it looks like they are trying to break out of the rote education model. I loved seeing "critically, analytically".

So many of the jobs that can now come to Myanmar require critical thinking. And debate can be part of the new political environment. The day we visited they were debating women's rights.