TMK Karen Summer Education Outreach

Thoo Mweh Khee Summer Karen State Education Outreach Program is an extension of Thoo Mweh Khee Migrant Learning Center, a school for ethnic Karen in Thailand.  TMK students travel to remote villages in Karen State, Myanmar, to share their knowledge and skill as well as celebrate being Karen and enjoying summer with vulnerable children with limited access to education.  The program is volunteer, but more than half of eligible students signed up to go.

Beneficiaries--
3,000 Ethnic Karen Children ages 5-18
Location--
25 different villages in Karen State, Myanmar
Duration--
4 weeks
Activities--
training in Karen language, Karen History, English, dance, sport, music, leadership, public speaking, and life skills
Implementers--
100 volunteers in groups of 4 or 5 from the Thoo Mweh Khee Bachelor of Liberal Arts Program
School Website--https://www.thoomwehkheeschool.org/ 


Thoo Mweh Khee students are leading an Education Revolution!!!

There has been a long-standing educational crisis in Myanmar.  In Karen State of Myanmar, only around 1 in 10 children graduate from high school, let alone have access to higher education.  This is due to a variety of factors including intermittent armed conflict, poverty, and a weak education system that does not provide for the most at-risk and remote places.

Thoo Mweh Khee Migrant Learning Centre is a school located in Thailand that provides education for kids and young adults from these vulnerable areas.  The ultimate mission of our school and the passion of our students is to transform their home communities and bring about real change to a group of people who have only known struggle and suffering.  Our students have beaten the odds by graduating from high school and continuing their education, but they understand the challenges that the children back in their villages face. 

With this in mind, Thoo Mweh Khee students organize summer programs to help the vulnerable children in their own villages get a step up in life.  Working together with local community leaders, the students themselves plan lessons in Karen, English, Karen history, computers, and other subjects as well as extracurricular activities such as music, sports, and dancing.  Their are also activities to increase the students' confidence such as speaking and song competitions and life skills, and future planning.  The TMK students live together with the local villagers and use the skill and knowledge they've gained at TMK to influence the community for the better.

As Thoo Mweh Khee School itself is dependent on donations to keep running, we have no outside funding for this program.  All of our students are volunteering for this, so the cost is relatively low, working out to about 4,000 baht (just over $100 US) to provide a month of education for 100 or more students.  It works out to about $1 per student, which is well worth the investment.

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Background on Karen Ethnic Group

The Karen are a minority ethnic group living in Myanmar and Thailand.  Now there is tentative peace after over 60 years of civil war, but the area is underdeveloped in all areas, especially education.  Karen have a distinct language and culture which has long been under threat from the majority Burmese military and government.  Although there is a Nation-wide Ceasefire Agreement and recent outright conflict has been rare, the peace is unsure and Karen identity is also under threat from the Myanmar national education system, which is poorly run, outdated, and not inclusive.  Many Karen children, if they attend school, do not have an opportunity to learn to read and write their own language.

Groups from last year
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Locations

Over 20 different locations, with several locations serving 3 or 4 different villages.  Karen State is divided into 7 Districts and we have groups going to all but one of those Districts as well as other areas of Burma.  Some locations were chosen by the students themselves while in other locations the local leaders contacted us and we organized groups.

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Duration--1 Month

Most of the groups plan to start on April 2nd and finish at the end of the month.  The daily schedule varies from group to group, but most of the groups will teach for about 3 hours in the morning and run activities in the afternoon when it's too hot to concentrate.  There will also be night study and various competitions and/or concerts held at night during the month.

Budget Total--90,000 Baht (3,000 USD)

Transportation--30,000 Baht (1,000 USD)

Getting 100 students to 24 different villages is quite an undertaking.  Some students have to take taxis, buses, and motorbikes for 2 days and 2 nights over primitive roads to get to their villages.  Other places are nearer and we will send the students directly with our overloaded school truck.  All in all, there will be dozens of trips to send and pick up students.  This cost is for public transportation and diesel.

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Teaching Materials--30,000 Baht (1,000 USD)

Notebooks, pens, pencils, portable whiteboards, markers, crayons, paper, and other essentials for morning classes.  We already have some extra left over from our school year that we will use, but not enough to cover everything for around 3,000 students.

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Activity Materials--30,000 Baht (1,000 USD)

Footballs, volleyballs, balloons, candy, and other materials for afternoon activities.  Summer should also be fun, so this is a necessity.

A Full list of Program Goals

Ø  Provide educational opportunities for children in poor Karen villages to improve their weaknesses in many subjects, especially English language, Karen language, and Karen history.

Ø  Promote Karen culture, arts, and identity in communities so the children understand what it means to be Karen and become proud of their heritage.

Ø  Present new ideas and methods of education that are not just memorizing like the education system in Burma.

Ø  Support Karen education system and promote mother-tongue based education in communities where there is only a Burmese government school.

Ø  Have fun and enjoy time with the children in the summer time, when many of the children would be lazy or bored while teaching new skills like music and dance.

Ø  Make and strengthen our relationships with community leaders and teachers in these villages.

Ø  Encourage parents in the community to support and become involved in their children’s education.

Ø  Show the quality of Thoo Mweh Khee School and Karen education so the people in the communities can compare it with graduates of the Burmese education system.

Ø  Support Thoo Mweh Khee students who want to go back to their own villages and work to improve the situation.

Ø  Give Thoo Mweh Khee students valuable experience in the community and increase their confidence while learning about the situation in different areas.

Ø  Work together to develop Karen State and Karen People to build a better future.

Every Little Bit Helps

Just 1 dollar helps provide this program for one child for one month.  Who knows what impact this could have in the long run?  The best investment we can make in the future is education and we are working to invest in any way we can.  All of the money raised will go to support these summer programs.  If you don't have money, you are also welcome to join one of groups as we work together to build a better future.

Below you can see a video of one our groups 2 years ago.

Donations ()

  • Neema Moghadam 
    • 50 $ 
    • 23 mos
  • Holly Nerat 
    • 25 $ 
    • 24 mos
  • Ty, Gun, & Nea Johnson 
    • 100 $ 
    • 24 mos
  • Amanda Johnson 
    • 100 $ 
    • 24 mos
  • Kay doo Brown 
    • 200 $ 
    • 25 mos
See all

Organizer

Brandon Newlin 
Organizer
Wallace, MI
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