Youth Leadership and Nonformal Education

June 22nd, 2018 | Stories


World Education led the education arm of the Project for Local Empowerment (PLE) in Myanmar from 2011 to 2017. This project supports leadership programs for Burmese youth who live along the Thailand border. The graduates of these leadership programs are now playing important roles in developing Thailand’s education system so it supports nonformal education programs for Burmese migrants.

One exemplar of these youth is Phyo Wai Lin, a former Wide Horizons student and the current central project coordinator of one of PLE’s partners, the Myanmar Literacy Resource Centre (MLRC). MLRC collaborates with the newly-formed Department of Alternative Education to reform the education system in Thailand so that migrant students from Burma can get a recognized education. Phyo supports this critical work by gathering and collating data from Nonformal Primary Education (NFPE) Centers. He is passionate about his role in supporting nonformal education, especially since he has experienced life as a migrant student in Thailand.

After graduating from Yangon University with a Bachelor of Physics degree, Phyo worked as a warehouse assistant and as an electrical mechanic, but in his spare time, he was naturally drawn to volunteering. He volunteered at a community-based organization (CBO) that provided education for orphans and served in a voluntary chairman position in a youth group that gathered stipends for retired teachers.

Seeing Phyo’s natural leadership and enthusiasm, one of the teachers encouraged him to apply for Wide Horizons. Wide Horizons is a two-year leadership development program dedicated to building the capacity of young adults from Burma to work effectively in civil society organizations. The program has built a strong reputation in the community and education sectors. CBOs in Thailand and Burma have employed many of its graduates through its work placement component. Phyo decided it was where he needed to go to develop his leadership ability as well as his practical skills in project management and community development.

“When I was struggling with many jobs at my town, I don’t even know what I want to be, just couldn’t find myself. However, when I had been working with the CBOs, I realize that I want to be a good person for the community. I want to develop non-formal education for the children who is living on the street helplessly. I want to enter Myanmar political field in the future …I decided to apply for Wide Horizons”

On completion of the academic program, Phyo Wai Lin began working for MLRC. His work helps prove the impact of NFPE schools, ensuring that NFPE providers will receive support and recognition from the government.

Phyo’s progression from PLE-supported leadership programming to playing a role in education reform for Burmese migrants is just one example of PLE graduates collectively contributing all across the community sector. The combination of academic skills development and practical work is equipping graduates with essential skills that are contributing to positive change.

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