Prospect Burma began life in 1989, following the pro-democracy uprising of the previous year. When we first started out, our work focussed on supporting refugees who had been forced to flee the country. We began raising funds for books and classes in refugee schools, and we awarded one annual scholarship to an exiled Burmese student to attend university. Since then we have grown exponentially, focussing on the provision of higher-education to Burmese students. To date we have awarded over 1,300 scholarships to Burmese students studying around the world.
In 1988 the Burmese military regime suppressed mass student-led pro-democracy demonstrations. Aung San Suu Kyi became the focus of Burmese people’s hopes, speaking out for human rights and multi-party elections, but demonstrations were violently quashed with large numbers of people killed. Martial law was imposed, universities and schools were closed down and thousands of young Burmese people fled to the country’s borders. In response, supporters around the world began to raise money to send basic provisions, and Prospect Burma was born.
Today the work we do is more important than ever, as new democratic developments since 2011 are increasing the need for infrastructure and vital skills in Burma. Education is the key to a sustainable future for the country, and is at the heart of what we do. Each year our scholarship programme enables more Burmese students to gain vital skills in higher education, to help build a brighter future for the country. Our scholarships prioritise key developmental subjects, which include public health, education, the environment, human rights and public administration. Our students come from a broad range of social, economic and ethnic backgrounds. In many cases, when our students return to the country their skills are unique within Burma, as they have gained expertise in areas which are continually developing, while the education system within Burma remains static, under-resourced and below global standards.
In 2015 we awarded 94 scholarships to students studying undergraduate, masters and PhD degrees in a huge variety of subjects, at Universities around the World. We have watched our alumni go on to achieve incredible things, with a very high percentage taking their skills back to their country.