Educating their children is of critical importance to the Burmese, and our first priority is to build and equip good quality primary schools in villages not served by the state, which in remote Delta areas are the norm.
Burmese schools are of 3 basic types: Government, Community, and Monastery. Once the government has adopted or sanctioned a school, it is required to provide paid, trained teachers (although often not enough), but there is usually little budget to renew or rebuild the schools themselves. For this reason donors and NGO’s can contribute part or all of the funds necessary. Government primary schools are built to a specified general plan and out of brick. We’ve built three such schools (Tha Zin Ngu, Taik Sein Gone, Thaung Tuu): they provide the best teaching environment but are too expensive when so many villages have little or nothing.
Monastic schools are few in number and almost all in towns, but perform a very valuable role and often educate the poorest children and orphans.
If a village community is not recognised as meriting a school, it can build its own, or a donor can build one for the village. Most of the existing structures in these villages are little more than mud floors, a bamboo or possibly timber frame, and some tarpaulin for walls. They are appalling environments in which to try to learn. Creating good quality community schools is the focus of what we do, and we have built 13 of them, in a very remote area. Since hardly anyone apart from HTBD builds such schools, we’ve developed our own designs with our partners Searchers. You can find details of the whole process on the ‘How we build a school’ page.
Those are the facts. What they don’t show is the emotion and impact. The villagers, teachers and children are just overjoyed with their new schools. At school openings people are often in tears. Enrollment usually increases by 30 – 50%.
For the very bright children, these schools can only take them so far. In order to progress, they will usually need to go to a very large village, or Bogalay town, to attend high school. We seek out and sponsor a limited number of orphans with the hope that they will emulate May’s father, Dr Tha Hla, who was once one of these delta children. Read more on this page.