North Devon teacher sets up in Myanmar


A Barnstaple-born teacher is hoping to set up a school on the other side of the world.

Chloe Smith has been living in Myanmar, formerly Burma, for the last 12 months, where she hopes to set up a scholarship program to train local teachers for a new school.

The former Newport and Park School pupil is working for New Education Highway, which aims to bring quality education to countries like Myanmar, which had an education system controlled by a military regime.

Speaking to the Gazette from a small village called Wiee Grace Htat, Chloe, 28, said: “The education is vastly different – schools are linked to a monastery.

“There are 50-60 pupils in one classroom and the teacher stands at the front dictating from a textbook and holding a wooden stick to discipline naughty students.

“Think of Dickens’ novels and that is about right for 21st century Burma.”

Now Chloe is looking for funding to send teachers from the village to Singapore, to gain knowledge of teaching which can be brought back to the Royal Education Centre in Myanmar.

She hopes to achieve the scholarship next year, with the building to follow, but admitted the task was a ‘huge undertaking’, with £10,000 needing to be raised for the scholarship alone.

She said: “It’s not the building of the school per se, but finding and training competent staff for the running and teaching of the place.

“There are a good number of rural schools, but the teachers have no training and eight classes of students can be packed into a small building made from palm trees.

“In the rainy season, school is routinely cancelled due to flooding, and in the summer it is too hot for outdoor classrooms.”

“We are hoping to achieve the scholarship in the next year, with the school to follow in another two to three years.”

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