First graduates for PSIE diploma program
October 2019 marked a momentous achievement for Pyinya Sanyae Institute of Education (PSIE) in Yangon as it saw the very first batch of students graduating from the Diploma of Early Childhood Education program.
Last year we invited our faithful Catholic Mission supporters to help heal the people of Myanmar through education by enhancing opportunities for children in a country where, for decades, conflict and unrest has limited them. A real and urgent need for teacher training in child-centred education, as well as construction and renovation of schools to enable children in remote areas have better access to quality education, were identified.
The response has been overwhelming and October 2019 marked a momentous achievement for Pyinya Sanyae Institute of Education (PSIE) in Yangon as it saw the very first batch of students graduating from the Diploma of Early Childhood Education program run in collaboration with HELP University, Malaysia.
While PSIE has been operating for over ten years and has trained more than 140 teachers who are now working in rural and remote Myanmar, the Diploma program is the first to offer students a recognised, accredited qualification.
Through the two-and-a-half-year diploma program which covers 27 subjects at primary and middle school level and includes extra-curricular formation in anti-trafficking, child protection, art for healing, creative development, environmental education and physical education, the 24 graduates have been equipped with the skills and knowledge to use a child-centred teaching pedagogy rather than the rote learning method which is common across Myanmar. Alongside academic studies, the graduates have also participated in weekly spiritual formation, leadership opportunities and regular volunteering.
For graduate Hawng Lwan, the time at PSIE has helped him grow personally while preparing him for his work as a teacher. ‘As a young boy I grew up under authoritative guardians, and I did not have the courage to speak a word in front of the class,’ he says. ‘But here, teachers gave me opportunities to improve my self-confidence through encouraging us to give speeches, present slide shows, perform dramas and social outreach.
‘I was elected to be student council leader to lead and to serve my friends, and I had the chance to attend a leadership course to improve my personal and professional leadership. I believe teachers who have received quality education can pass on quality education to the next generation.’
The graduates worked diligently and strived for excellence in their studies, with many persevering through personal struggles such as language issues, being away from home for long periods of time, learning to live in harmony with fellow students from different parts of the country and overcoming academic struggles related to their own primary and secondary education.
As graduate Naw Than Myint shares, ‘It was a great chance to be in this HELP diploma course at Pyinya Sanyae. The time was not as long as I thought it would be, and the two and half years passed very quickly. Sometimes I was stressed, sometimes I was very busy and suffered not having enough sleep, or I struggled to finish my assignments and homework; but with God, I could overcome them all,’ she says. ‘From those pains, I gained a lot of knowledge of what teachers really need. All the course modules were valuable and helped me step out of the box and to view education and the role of a professional teacher from a much wider perspective.’
The 24 graduates will now be posted in schools across four dioceses in Myanmar where they will provide education to children from disadvantaged and vulnerable backgrounds, reaching out to approximately 900 children all together. In addition to traditional school settings, some of the graduates will be sent to disadvantaged schools, orphanages and remand centres to help upskill and support the local teaching staff. Other graduates will work in the summer camps run by PSIE for children in five remote communities across Myanmar, as well as in Yangon. These camps focus on teaching English and moral and environmental lessons in a child-centred manner.
All the graduates are excited to embark on this next stage of their teaching journey and to be able to provide quality education for the next generation. As Nant Thandar Lin shares, `I realise that most of the social issues in Myanmar are the result of our poor system of education. Most of us came to school with lack of knowledge, lack of confidence, lack of motivation, lack of moral values, lack of knowing what we don’t know, lack of questioning skills. Education in our country is bitter because it is expensive; not everyone has access to it, some at a very young age have to take care of the younger siblings, or work to support their families, actually, that is child labour. I am eager to contribute towards the positive change needed in education in Myanmar.’
Another graduate, Hein Thuzar Naing, shares, ‘Along my journey at Pyinya Sanyae I have been posted to different places such as Tamwe, Shwe Pyi Thar, Bago, Yamae Thin, Myeik, and Myaung Mya. If I didn’t join Pyinya Sanyae, I might not have been to these places or experienced the life of different children. I realise that I am teaching not just the subject but a child – his temperament, his academic capability, his health, his home background and anything that may be hindering him from doing his best. I have found my passion among such disadvantaged children. With them I release all my tiredness. I don’t feel like I am labouring that hard. Therefore, I would say, “my vocation now becomes my vacation”.’
Your support through Catholic Mission has and will continue to contribute to a range of project activities at PSIE, including funding the salaries of the onshore native and foreign teaching staff and salaries of the support staff, the lease of the PSIE building, and the travel, board and lodging of visiting lecturers from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Sister Grace Chia, Supervisor at PSIE, expressed her gratitude. ‘Grateful thanks to God who is our “All in All”. God has made the "impossible" possible through your contribution and participation. To name some means to leave out others. No one's contribution is too insignificant to be left out. May God who sees bless you a hundred-fold for your contribution. This comes with our deepest gratitude. Je Zu Thi Ma De!'