A Visit to the New Generation School
December 22, 2016

On a recent trip to Myanmar I visited an interesting school called Myo Set Thit. In Burmese that means “New Generation”.

At this school, led by the impressive and inspirational, Kyaw Naing, 35 students from remote villages come here to Hpa-An, the capital city of the Karin State, to study in a Grade 11 “college prep” program. Here’s Treasure talking with Kyaw Niang.

Grade 11 is the final grade for high school in Myanmar. There were plans to add a grade 12, but now the new government has postponed that.

As I looked into the program here I became convinced of the quality of education provided. Science, math, geography, economics, social studies, Burmese – all covered in depth, to prepare these students for success when they take the Government Exams for graduation and qualification for university.
Then I got to participate in an English lesson. Wow! Was I ever impressed with their skill level! They understood sentence structure, grammar, tenses, and complex construction. I know. I tested them. The big shortfall I could identify was speaking. They seem to be able to speak okay, but are very hesitant to do so because of accent and pronunciation. That’s where they could use some help.

We need some native English speakers to come here and volunteer. This could be a great experience for the right person. Room and board can be provided.

Kyaw is very proud of his students’ 60% pass rate on the National Exams. It struck me as low, so when I inquired he assured me that it was actually quite high now that the government has tightened the standards for their testing. Under his program, students that fail to pass may re-take grade 11 and retest the following year. He claims that virtually all of his students eventually pass. And, since he’s been doing this for 11 years now, that is a lot of educated young people.

Here we are enjoying our fresh sugar cane juice. Delicious.

The big need here is a place for this school to call home. Right now school is held in a local community center when that space is available. When schedule conflicts arise they are frequently evicted for the day. In the evenings they are able to use a room in the nearby high school for study, but that space also is available only on a limited basis.

The ideal solution would be to purchase a bit of land and build a modest school. That, however, could cost $25,000 to $30,000 – a huge amount of money for this small, struggling school. Alternatively, they could rent a room in a local building for an approximate cost of $500 per month; $6,000 per year. Again, that would represent a very large expenditure for this small school.

We’re exploring possible alternatives as creatively as possible, but in this culture, and with the severe government restrictions (such as preventing a university lending assistance to this college prep program), the solution to their space needs has not yet shown up.

What ideas do our supporters have about this situation? Who can help us with funding for the short term?