As part of the education being provided to our students, in addition to vocational skills, we continue to provide life skill training including critical thinking as well as moral, ethical, and citizenship building. To help advance those ideas, this week the students were given a project to plan and implement something that will make a positive change in someone’s life or environment within a budget of 15,000MMK ($10 USD). Students were partnered into four teams. Their plans had to include a Goal, a narrative of the problem analysis, drawing up a problem tree, and both a strategic plan narrative and action plan narrative, and document why their plan is the plan would provide the best ROI (Return on Investment) on 15,000MMK, and measure it against LOC (Lost Opportunity Cost), yes we also mingle in some business training as well.
They were given four days to finish the plan and to make a presentation which must include a PowerPoint presentation to all the students and instructors. The followings were the four proposals in summary;
Group 1, wants to make a campaign to clean the Esther Project campus. This includes 10 minutes sharing on cleanliness, and 20 minutes picking trash on the campus. They would spend the Kyats on buying new trash cans and put them in the classrooms.
Group 2, proposed helping the younger students study English at night back at the orphanages better. This includes 2 hours of English class every night during the implementation of the project, a test at the end, encouragements and sharing knowledge and nutrition with the younger students.
Group 3, came up with the idea of starting a mini library for the Fundamental’s students (the 1st year students) at North Dagon Center 2. This would consist of building a small bookshelf, gathering a collection of old books, and a session on sharing the importance of reading and writing.
Group 4, plans to show love to the Fundamentals students, this would include setting up the classroom before they come to class and putting away their chairs after the class, they would utilize the Kyats to purchase several umbrellas for the students to borrow when they go back home in the afternoon when it is raining (during the monsoon season).
Our instructors were impressed by all the presentations, and believe that all of the groups did great, and believe that this sort of exercise helps the students to improve their critical thinking, teamwork, advance their English skill and of course problem-solving skills in real life. The director of the Esther Project made the decision to implement all four of the group’s suggestions, to let the children experience the difference between saying something and doing something.
All four groups have been given 15,000MMK to implement their proposal and must give a presentation (including PowerPoint) to the entire staff and all the students on how they implemented their plan and the real-life impact of it.
Another year of The Esther Project has commenced, with 6 locations serving 29 orphanages and over 200 children. We have returning students, some for their 3rd and final year, as well as many first-year students, in addition, we have launched a test program to measure the effectiveness of a new teaching method to accelerate the speaking skills of our students.
Two of the new centers are located in the Shwe Pyi Thar Township, an area of extreme poverty by any measure. We understood that launching centers in Shwe Pyi Thar, will present difficulties that we have not had to deal with in our other locations, and immediately in Shwe Pyi Thar, it was uncovered that not only do our students not have any English skills (as was expected) but many of them do not speak the national language of Burmese, they instead speak their tribal language. Fortunately, our instructors are fluent in the tribal language as well and as a result, our instructors will undertake not only the task of teaching English but also the native language of Burmese to these children.
As a result, we are altering our lesson plans and methods to encompass both Burmese and English for these children. While the single most important skill to have in Myanmar to escape generational poverty is English, it is equally as important that these children are taught the national language if they are to be able to communicate with everyone in their country.
For citizens of countries that are more developed, it is almost unimaginable to be born, raised and live in your country without being able to speak the native language, unfortunately such is not the case for many of the children who come from the remote villages in Myanmar, placing yet another roadblock in front of them in their quest to escape the poverty that grips them.
Our Esther Project, a non-profit program in Myanmar provides vocational training to orphans. We currently serve over 200 children in 29 orphanages in 6 locations.