Myanmar has been neglected and exploited by repressive military regimes for five decades. As a result, infrastructures are broken, schools and hospitals are dysfunctional, and the vast majority of the population is uneducated and vulnerable. As children are the worst affected, children are given over to work as indentured servants.
“Out-of-school Working Children in Myanmar”
- According to 2014 census data, there are 5.09 million children between age 5-18 out of school in Myanmar.
- Many of teashops are manned by children who have been forced into servitude. Once in this situation, they must work for 16 hours daily, 7 days per week. They sleep on the tables or on the floors of the shops at night and their earning are usually sent back to their families or villages in the countryside. In this system, the children are sometimes abused by the employers/owners and customers, deprived of their childhoods, and lack of any basic educational skills, decent healthcare, and adequate, nutritious food.
myME project aims to provide the working children with skills and a future so that they can get educated and graduate myME program to enter a better community and get a better income. It also expects that the benefits are not restricted to only children, but spread to their communities as a whole.
myMe project is innovative in terms of enhancing access to education. As working children cannot easily access to educational institutions, it goes to the “teashop” where children are working after working hours. These mobile classrooms(buses) are equipped with tablets supported by Samsung to provides these children with access to learning. Also, they are all wired for internet connectivity.
myME project supports each child to spend a minimum of two hours per day every other day learning. Its learning contents are diverse from the basic education curriculum to enriching programs to encourage and promote creativity, such as photography and art, and an ongoing program. Also, myMe project involves volunteers from around the world to speak to students about life in their countries.
At present, due to a large amount of participating teashops and students, several of the teashops are converted into classrooms after working hours. The buses are still used for the most beginner levels and to bring the teachers, teaching assistants, volunteers, and supplies to each teashop for a day’s class.
Over 3000 child workers enrolled in the program in Yangon, Mandalay, and Kyauk-Se, serving 53 teashops and operating 7 days per week providing 10-12 classes per day. To date, 58 students from six teashops have graduated level one and more than 10,000 children in Myanmar have been touched and benefited.
On December 7, 2018, 37 of myME students graduated their respective levels. It had 20 students receiving their beginner level certificates, and 17 students receiving their Level 1 certificates. After graduating one level, students progress through to successful completion of Level 3, following level 3, students can continue with other vocational training provided by myME and training partners, and the final stage of the program for students is either to re-enter formal education or to gain better employment with one of our myME partners.
myME was founded by a small group of people living in NYC and Myanmar. We all passionately believe that true reform in Myanmar starts with education. Today, myME has a full team on the ground operating in Myanmar. myME hire only local teachers and coordinators who are uniquely sensitive to the needs of the working children of Myanmar.