For thirty years, Prospect Burma has had a very specific aim – to support the rebuilding of Myanmar, through education. There are four core reasons for how and why we have developed our programmes in the way we have:
In 1989, a nationwide, peaceful protest was violently quashed by the military government. After years of military rule, people united to call for democratic changes to be made, led by university students. As a result, all of the universities were closed down, and students and teachers arrested. This event had immediate, devastating and long-lasting effects on the country, and it has been our mission ever since to support the rebuilding of infrastructure, through opening up international education pathways for students from Myanmar. Today, although many universities are open again, it will be a long time until the standard of education has been returned to pre-1989 levels, and so international institutions still offer the best opportunities to learn.
Myanmar is an incredibly diverse country, with over 130 recognised ethnic groups. With many individual languages, people are excluded from understanding school classes, which are all taught in Burman. With rote-learning the standard teaching method, students are expected to memorise large passages of text, and are not allowed to question what they read. As a result, students don’t leave school with important critical thinking skills, or qualifications which will allow them to pursue further education abroad, or lucrative employment. In order to repair the country’s broken education system, Myanmar needs skilled and educated people with training and vision.
Myanmar is a country in deep turmoil. Long-running internal conflicts ravage the country, which have a catastrophic effect on livelihoods, infrastructure and on education. In some parts of the country, conflicts have been running for over 50 years. Conflict affected regions are some of the poorest in the country, and the education drop-out rates are also high in these areas. People are often forced from their homes due to violence, and as a result there are nearly 150,000 internally displaced people in the country. During conflict, education is one of the first services to be lost, and many children who are displaced will not have access to education of any kind.
Because of the poor standard of education received in the public education system, the country’s infrastructure suffers. Myanmar is lacking in highly skilled people in key developmental areas, which has an enormous effect on the whole country. This includes healthcare, engineering, information technology, business development, environmental services, and much more.
Prospect Burma believes that the best way to address all of these issues, to support talented and driven individuals who have a plan for their future, and to support the redevelopment of the country’s infrastructure, is through the provision of quality international education.