How can you help?
Build a School in Burma frequently receives inquires about how people can help. Of course, money donations are always welcome. Donated funds in any amount help us to build more schools.
Volunteering in Myanmar is not feasible at this time due to various factors including language barriers and government policies. Under some circumstances, for example, when a person, group or company sponsors a whole school, we have been able to arrange participation in specific construction activities (e.g., school painting, foundation digging).
Sponsoring a School
Individuals, families, groups and companies have all sponsored individual BSB schools. Construction costs of an entire school can range from US $20,000 (for a one room school) up. Typically, the sponsors can visit the school under construction or on completion. Please email us through the 'Contact Us' link if you are interested in sponsoring a school.
In Kind Donations
We cannot accept In-kind donations originating outside of Myanmar, however, we may be able to accept in-country donations from Myanmar sources.
Yes, donations are tax deductible for US taxpayers. Build a School in Burma operates with a fiscal sponsor, Partners Asia, which is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
All of your donation, net of fees to Partners Asia, will go to build schools in Myanmar. Currently BSB Advisory Board members pay all of the organization’s expenses outside of Myanmar.
BSB leaders travel frequently to Myanmar to meet with our country director and local NGOs working at the community level to learn about communities that need schools. BSB and the local partner then meet with those communities and decide whether or not to accept a proposal. When a proposal is received it is evaluated according to our criteria.
BSB criteria for supporting a school project are:
- need for a school (e.g., no existing school or building in poor condition or overcrowded)
- community involvement (e.g., a community school committee including women, contributed land and labor, sometimes a monetary contribution)
- sustainability (a plan and a source of money to pay teachers and help maintain the school)
- active participation of a local Myanmar organization
- costs relative to norms and to available funding
- supportive of keeping parents and children together
Some donors wish to support or contribute an entire school. If you would like to make a large contribution and would like to fund an entire school, please contact us, and we will brief you about what opportunities exist that match your wish. A school with donated land may cost US$25,000 and up.
BSB gathers information and considers carefully before committing to funding a project. We also monitor completed schools through site visits and/or contact with our local partners. Thus far all schools that BSB helped to build are in use and in good condition.
Not at this time except under unusual circumstances. Much as we appreciate the intentions of those who wish to volunteer to work on school construction, barriers of language, arduous travel, security concerns, and primitive living conditions make this difficult. In addition, we strive to promote sustainability, which generally means that locals teach and help the children, and that local builders and workers do the construction.
Most of the schools are quite remote, and do not have anyone who could meet with visitors without prearrangement. For donors interested in funding a school, we can arrange a visit to an existing school accessible from Yangon or Mandalay. Please email us and tell us what you are interested in, when and where you plan to travel, whether you will have a local guide, and we will try to accommodate your wishes.
Yes. We really do need help in some areas (particularly fundraising and marketing), and would be glad to communicate with you about this. We try to match people with work that fits their time, skills, and interests.
There are no paid jobs at BSB except for our country director in Myanmar. Everyone in BSB, other than our country director, is an unpaid volunteer.
Not generally. BSB’s model seeks to promote sustainability. We think it is important that the community, usually working with the government or religious organizations, be involved and committed to the operation of the school, including recruiting and paying teachers. Our view is we are helping with the part they cannot afford -- the cost of building the schools. But the ownership and the operation of the school must come from the community. We make limited exceptions to this rule for special situations.
Primary school is KG to 4th Standard grade, post primary and middle school is 5th-8th, and secondary school is 9th and 10th Standard. To ‘matriculate’ (graduate) students must pass a final exam after completing the 10th Standard. Children are required to complete primary school, but many communities do not have a school, so too often children don’t go to school at all. Many students in rural communities drop out after the 4th Standard grade because there is no further school. For this reason we seek to promote rural middle schools.
The government of Myanmar specifies the curriculum for all schools in Myanmar. There is an ongoing national movement to reform the curriculum, which is progressing slowly. We think that curriculum decisions are best left to the people of Myanmar. As we help build more schools and as we gain experience in Myanmar, we expect to be more active regarding curriculum, particularly in schools we helped build.
Classes are taught in Myanmar (Burmese). This can be challenging for children from minority ethnic groups who speak their own languages. Often teachers sent by the government to minority areas do not speak the local language.
Nearly all non-profits have some overhead expenses, for things such as accounting, government reporting, and monitoring for compliance with laws and regulations. BSB’s expenses are minimized because our fiscal sponsor performs some of those activities and volunteers contribute others in-kind. Other expenses, such as the country director salary, are met through the personal funds of advisory board members.