Myanmar: My journey, is it near or far?

22 July 2024|Saw Re Htoo Htoo, Karenni Education Department (KnED) Mobile Education Assistant

My name is Saw Re Htoo Htoo. I am 23 years old. I come from one remote village called “BuKho” which had experienced many displacements in the past decades due to the civil war. I went to Ban Mai Nai Soi refugee camp in Mae Hong Son, Thailand in 2010 to find more opportunities for education because we don’t have high school in our village.  

When I entered the refugee camp, I started as a Standard 7 student. After high school, I continued my schooling at Karenni National College (KnNC) for two years. As part of the requirements of the school, I served as a teacher and taught geography lessons at a refugee camp high school for one year. I eventually graduated and earned my diploma in Community Development at KnNC.  

I returned to Kayah State, Myanmar in 2018, serving as a teacher in Social Science at Seh Teh Learning Center (STLC) for one year. Due to the education needs in remote areas, I joined the Mobile Education Team starting 2019 and became a Mobile Education Assistant (MEA). As MEA, I am responsible to train community teachers, and to monitor schools, teachers and students in Mawchi area. I am very delighted because I can contribute and support the education of my younger brothers and sisters in need in Mawchi area in the way I can. 

I received many trainings from JRS such as teaching methods, child development, child rights and protection, subject teaching, data recording and analysis, as well as peace building training and business planning training. JRS also collaborated with government teacher trainers to provide training for us on the new curriculum. The JRS support that I like the most are coaching sessions as they help me increase my confidence in preparing and providing training on the topics that I am assigned to. JRS staff also accompany us when we go to very remote areas for community teacher training and monitoring. 

In Mawchi area which I originally come from, many children do not have access to quality education. Some of the challenges that contribute to this are: lack of trained teachers and high turnover of community teachers due to lack of incentives; absence of facilities and learning materials, including absence of schools which offer higher level of basic education; poor economic situation of parents and their low regard to the importance of education; and, the remoteness of the location 

It is touching but painful to see some children carrying around their younger siblings to watch at schools every time I come to conduct monitoring visits and activities in primary schools. I realized that there is a lot more to do in these areas especially with parents. Discussing, sharing and learning with parents is needed to enable them to support their children in going to schools.  

Compared to the past decade, youths nowadays especially in big towns have many learning opportunities through formal or non-formal education. I would like to encourage my fellow youths to take these learning opportunities at hand and come back to help the education of our younger brothers and sisters in need.  

The learnings I got from my monitoring trips motivate me to try harder to give the best I can. My current capacity is not enough to do the best yet. Those realities motivate me to continue further studies so that I can serve better and more effectively. 

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