Groundbreaking project sees Myanmar welcome foreign teacher trainers

Leading international development charity Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) is sending volunteer teacher trainers to Myanmar throughout August and September, marking a historic moment between Myanmar and the UK.

The initiative is being undertaken in partnership with the British Council, as part of a British Council -DFID funded project, to help improve the quality of education in the country. The programme will be officially opened by The British Ambassador to Myanmar and Jim Emerson, CEO of VSO International, on the 25th August.

This is the first time foreigners have been permitted to work in the education colleges and the first time teacher educators will receive in-depth training. This involves two years of in-service teaching training for the teacher educators in the education colleges. The first year focuses on English language teaching and the second on methodology.

1,300 local teacher trainers will be taught by 44 expert English language teachers, who will be placed in the country’s Education Colleges and universities of Education. There will be VSO teacher trainers in almost every college in the country.

Alice Redfearn will be one of these VSO volunteer teacher trainers and she will be travelling to Myanmar on 19 August. Alice says:

We will be working with teacher trainer colleagues in Myanmar colleges to help them enhance their English language skills.  This is an exciting opportunity to develop relationships and skills which will enable Myanmar professionals to have the knowledge and confidence to teach their children and young people English to a high standard.  They will also be able to use the internet to access research, teaching materials and methodology to take advantage of the wealth of information that is available in the English language.”

Education in Myanmar has suffered under decades of military rule.  The education sector has been chronically underfunded, leading to systemic weaknesses across the board. At present the state education system does not provide universal coverage, with monastic schools and ethnic education providers contributing to a patchwork system of provision. Capacity building is now required at every level, from nursery through to university.

The Government of Myanmar is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the education system and VSO and the British Council are supporting the process of educational reform through sending skilled teacher trainers who will work with the country’s teacher training institutions. VSO is experienced in supporting national governments to address challenges. VSO has volunteers supporting Education Ministries around the world in subjects such as school leadership, teacher training, and curriculum development.

Jim Emerson, CEO of VSO International says,

By improving the skills of teacher educators, we will improve the training to all state school teachers across the country. The project hopes to have a profound impact upon the way in which teachers – and therefore children – are taught. By improving the education of children – we are investing in the country’s future.”

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