Neighborhood Learning Centers
There is a high value placed on education in Myanmar. However, the education system has long been stagnant, suffering from a critical lack of resources and skills. When we started our ministry in 2005, families had to pay an annual education fee, buy school uniforms and school supplies to attend school. As a result, Myanmar families could not afford to educate their children.
Those that could afford to send their children to school quickly learned the teachers were not adequately teaching their students because of low salaries ($20 to $30 a month). To supplement their salaries, teachers charged an unofficial fee called “tuition” to teach the government school curriculum after school hours.
Love for Myanmar started a “neighborhood school” in a poor Buddhist neighborhood in Yangon in 2006. We hired seminary graduates to teach and provided a hot lunch for each student. We did not charge a school fee, or require students to wear a uniform, and provided books and school supplies free. Our only requirement was parents understand that students accepted in the neighborhood school would also be taught Christian values and beliefs.
Today, the government requires students to attend government-sponsored schools, and school is now free. However, teachers still are underpaid and continue to charge “tuition” which most families still cannot afford. At the neighborhood school, we now teach students after school but do not charge “tuition”.
The neighborhood school we started has been successful. Students who attended the neighborhood school have graduated from high school, some continuing their education at universities, and others attending seminary.
Our goal is to expand this program to rural villages throughout Myanmar. Neighborhood schools not only provide a good education for students, but also help Buddhists learn about the Gospel and Christian beliefs.