Since the 2021 coup Build a School in Burma has searched for ways to continue its mission to bring education to underserved Myanmar children. Building schools in areas under military control is logistically difficult given violence and disruption—and ethically questionable.
During 2021 we were able to complete schools already under construction. Starting in 2022 BSB shifted its efforts to areas not under military control and to schools (‘learning centers’) in Thailand educating Myanmar migrant and refugee children. Since the change we have completed nine schools. Details can be found in on the web pages which describe each school. BSB has additionally reroofed and repaired several other learning centers to make them better learning spaces.
The change in strategy has created new challenges and risks. The Thai government is not particularly keen to have many migrants coming across the border. Government policies and informal practices hinder migrant families and those who wish to help educate their children. Myanmar children are not generally permitted to attend Thai government schools. So parents, NGOs and faith groups have cobbled together their own schools, using a combination of volunteer teachers, modest school fees and donations.
Within Myanmar there is a pervasive threat of conflict, including bombings, ground fighting and land mines. BSB has focused building in areas least likely to destruction, but there are no guarantees. Many children attending these schools are boarders who come from conflict areas.
In addition to our continued efforts to strengthen schools, BSB is supporting a Myanmar graduate student, Khun Aung Aung, in studying for a masters degree in education in the US. Khun Aung helped organize several BSB school construction projects in Burma during 2020 and founded a monastic school program to equip young adult students with academic skills so they can study at foreign universities. His further education will complement BSB goals when he returns home to promote education.
As before, Build a School in Burma has benefited from robust partnerships. The Austrian NGO Sao Bien which builds schools elsewhere in Southeast Asia has supported half the construction costs for several schools. Faith-based partners like Grace Church have helped BSB make connections to schools and humanitarian needs within Myanmar and in Thailand. Our affiliate, Partners for Better Futures, has provided funding for humanitarian relief. We are grateful for our partners’ support.