Myitkyina, 13 July 2018 – Roi San, a 24-year old woman, is serving as a volunteer teacher at a Catholic school in the town of Myitkyina in Myanmar’s Kachin State. She began teaching in this school two years ago after graduating from a teacher training course supported by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).
Promoting quality education is one of the most urgent needs in many of Myanmar’s remote areas, especially due to the country’s ongoing civil war which began in 2011. As a response to this need, the Catholic Church sends volunteer teachers each year to the conflict-affected areas to address the shortage of teachers. It was one of these groups of volunteer teachers that Roi San joined.
“I was interested in teaching young children. I wanted to have an experience as a volunteer teacher educating young children in very remote areas, where the government cannot reach,” she explained.
To achieve her goal, she did JRS's 9-month Teacher Training Program, the first 7 months of which are theoretical learning, followed by 2 months of practicum. Usually, the practicum is done in one of the biggest camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Myitkyina. There, the student teachers create relationships of love and hope with the children, and they grow their confidence in teaching.
After graduation, the Diocesan Education Commission (DEC), JRS’s main partner in Myanmar, assigns the trained volunteer teachers to camps and community schools supported by DEC. The volunteers must commit to working as a teacher for at least two years.
Serving people in need has enriched Roi San’s life. “I learned a lot from the teacher training course. It improved especially my self-confidence. I also learned how to coordinate with other people and organisations. I know that all these skills I learned from the training, will not only be useful in teaching but also will help me to grow as a person,” said Roi San.
Roi San loves her students and, together with other teachers, she spends extra time supporting slower learners. She is trying her best to nurture the development of young children, who are the hope of the community and country as it undergoes the process of nation-building.
“The happiest time for me is when the students and I are playing games together and when the learning objectives I set for students are achieved,” said Roi San.
In Kachin, there are still many remote areas where children cannot enjoy their right to an education. Structural barriers to education as well as protracted armed conflicts are hindering the continuation of their studies. Through teachers like Roi San, JRS in Myanmar is working together with local partners to fill gaps in education for internally displaced and vulnerable children.