Inclusive quality education is key for learning opportunitiesPublished: Dec 16, 2022 Reading time: 5 minutes
Amid ongoing conflicts, we are working in the Education in Emergencies (EiE) sector; together with support from local organisations, we ensure access to safe and quality education for conflict-affected children in Kachin State, Myanmar. Addressing the urgent educational needs, we support local educational actors’ capacity to provide continuous quality education and increase access to protective, quality and inclusive learning opportunities to promote the health and well-being of school-aged conflict-affected children.
To deliver qualitative inclusive education in an emergency, our local partner organisations and we have provided relevant training on technical knowledge and skills to local education actors to encourage more robust locally-led educational support. Teachers are still in high demand for schools in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. Along with local partner organisations, we first conducted the education volunteer programme with camp-based volunteers to become school volunteer teachers. About 38 trained volunteer teachers work in 11 targeted IDP camps in three townships of the Bhamo district in Kachin State.
Empowering local education actors’ roles
Through our support, teachers and volunteer teachers can strengthen their role and promote the children's well-being in the EiE context. Moreover, with our partners, we conducted training with Teaching in Crisis Contexts (TiCC) and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) curricula, together with providing incentives for essential livelihood support and the ability to support children’s learning continuously.
Supporting psychosocial well-being of conflict-affected children
“We are focusing on children’s mental well-being and happy and healthy brain development,” says Hkawng Sang* (name changed), a community volunteer teacher. She adds, “In conflict situations, children are the most vulnerable because most parents struggle for regular livelihoods and cannot be attentive to each child as they would like. As a mother, I know how much psychosocial support is needed for the displaced camps. Before the SEL and TiCC training, I was shy and silent in public, even though I could not speak out if I needed something. After receiving the training, I am actively ready to support the children.”
Hkaun Bu*, a volunteer teacher, shares her experiences teaching an SEL curriculum to children in the camp. “Children are asking for more time to learn the SEL modules. Mostly, children are happy to sing the songs, dance and play during the SEL training. We focus on kindergarten (KG) to Grade 8 school-aged children. The SEL curriculum lasts about 38 weeks, so we conduct SEL training three times per week.”
She continues, “I have noticed children developing kind behaviour, helping each other in the class, helpful towards the parent, and happy to work together as a group. When SEL training starts, we play a game called parachute, and every child wants to hold the parachute; we let children throw their emotions into the parachute and imagine throwing it away. When they play this game, they are all happy and safe. Some were shy before we started the modules, but one or two weeks later, all were happy and excited to learn the next modules.”
Jar Seng*, 10, feels happy and safe when she learns about SEL curricula. She says, “I love to play games and sing songs with dancing. I want to be a singer, so I love singing and dancing. Also, I like painting and drawing as well. Previously, I did not want to pay attention to what my mother told me and I had a difficult relationship with my friends. But I learn through SEL training, and I am more polite in listening and have good relationships with my friends and help with housework.”
Jar Seng is ready to sing and dance when volunteer teachers gather children in front of the classroom. They sing a Kachin song together with modern dance. A three-year-old kindergarten girl also wants to dance in the group. Her mother looks at her carefully and expresses her gratitude to the teachers. “We are living nearby camp school. My daughter hears the songs of children and wants to come here. But she is too small to participate in the group. That is why I come along with her. Teachers let her play games and paint.”
Providing educational needs for children
With financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic (MFA), we provide home-based learning materials and student kits distributions to nearly 1,700 children between kindergarten (KG) to Grade 8 and support learning materials for 11 school libraries in primary and post-primary schools. Seng Jar Awng*, 12, who likes reading books, is happy to go to the new school library. “Now our school library is stocked with story books. I love reading. I read all home-based learning books distributed by the teachers.”
Daw Bawk Ra*, a camp school mistress, says, “Now we have a camp library kit and library place which consisting of books for children, a tablet with e-books, audiobooks and educational apps. Moreover, our school infrastructure is needed to be supported because our school is located at the top of a hill. We need a water tank at the school to ensure we get clean and safe drinking water for the children. Many of our children bring water from their homes with water bottles which PIN has provided. However, we have a safe space for children to play the games freely. Thanks to People in Need and its donors for supporting our school.”
Along with educational support, PIN and our partners provide parents with skills workshops in all 11 camps. A total of 426 caregivers joined these workshops. Kha Mai, a local partner organisation project lead, says how important the learning environment and parent skills workshop are. “Parent Skills workshops aim to improve the parents’ stress management skills and positive parenting practices. All of these skills and practices support child and adolescent psychosocial well-being. To have a healthy, mutually enjoyable relationship between children and parents is our goal to foster optimal child growth and development.”
She adds, “If we provide this knowledge to parents and caregivers, it will decrease the violence against children at home and improve caregivers’ positive developmental outcomes. And also, increased parental engagement in children’s learning and development can reduce the risk of school drop-out issues.”
*The names of certain individuals and locations have been changed for their protection."