What we do
All 33 schools supported by the Community Schools’ Program (CSP) were pre-existing and were run by parents from the villages that the schools served. The schools however lacked basic necessities and teachers worked without pay as there was no funding from the government. Parents were striving to provide an education to their children with no textbooks or proper school buildings; without outside assistance they were unable to provide basic necessities for the schools themselves.
We were able to provide them with the following:
Stationary (exercise books, pens, pencils, erasers, A4 computer paper, chalk, & staplers)
In Burma/ Myanmar, the students are required to buy the teaching materials for each school year many parents however are unable to afford to buy these teaching materials. In the CSP, we distribute exercise books, pens, pencils, erasers and paper to students and teachers annually. When we began the program each student received 5 exercise books, three pens and two pencils each school year. Three years ago we increased distribution to 7 – 10 exercise books, 5 pens and 5 pencils. A4 computer paper, chalk and staplers are distributed to the schools as well.
Clothes for students, teachers and school committee members
Ever since the program started each teacher, school committee member and student has received cloth to make shirts and skirts or pants. Receiving cloth makes the students very happy and encourages them to study. Unfortunately this year due to limited funding we are unable to continue providing cloth for the students.
Warm shirts for students and teachers
In 2005 EDM (Enfants du Mékong) began providing funds to several schools in collaboration with Ballinacree and Mount Nugent Parish in order to provide warm shirts for students and teachers. In 2009 we again purchased warm shirts for all students and teachers from the CMP. Most of the schools are situated at high altitudes and it is usually cold from November to February. Because of the low temperatures, providing warm clothing to the students and teachers is essential for their health and well being. We stop giving the warm shirts to the teachers and students for awhile due to the funding limitation.
Mosquito nets distribution
Malaria is a common problem in Karen State and is also expensive to treat. There are clinics in some of the villages but many villages still have no healthcare facilities making it very difficult and dangerous for students and teachers when they become sick. Malaria can lead to serious complications such as anemia, which is why there is a serious cause for concern within the student population. For the past two years, each teacher and student received one mosquito net significantly reducing their risk of contracting malaria. The nets distribution was funded by the Brackett Foundation, Manos Unidas and Clear Path International. Due to the Manos Unidas funding ending in December 2010, and because CPI funding was a one time only donation, these items can no longer be included in the budget.
Toothpaste and toothbrushes distribution
The students have been taught to brush their teeth in the mornings and in the evenings prior to bed. In 2008 the program distributed tooth paste and tooth brushes to the students and teachers. It is very helpful for dental care and oral hygiene. For many reasons, predominantly funding limitations, toothpaste and toothbrushes can also no longer be included in the budget.
In the second week of November 2014, we distributed the tooth pastes and tooth brushes again few schools were receiving it.
Funding for food within the school program
Funding for food is given to the schools for use on special occasions such as Christmas, Karen New Year, school closing ceremonies and school picnics. In the 2013 school year and at now the program provided the funding to the Kawpan Lan Monastery Education Center; border house to buy the rice.
Providing funding to students that move to study at high school
The schools in the Community Schools’ Program operates from the primary to middle school level, after which the children need to move to a new village to continue at the high school level. Since the school year of 2009 the program has provided additional funds to children continuing their studies, with assistance from Enfant Du Mekong (EDM). Each child should pay (4000) Baht annually to stay in a dormitory for the accommodation and food.
The program can only help 59 students per year however in the 2012-13 school year the program will extend funding to support continuing studies for more children.
Funding for new school buildings
The program provides some of the funding to construct school buildingsand since 2001 the program has completed building seven schools in all. Four schools were constructed using wood and have metal roofs; the rest were built with wood and have thatched roofs made of leaves.
Between 2001 and 2010 the CSP provided each teacher with a stipend of 5000 Baht per year. In April 2010 the teacher’s stipend was increased by 500 Baht to 5500 baht per year. From May 2012 the stipend will increase by 500 Baht again, so each teacher will receive 6,000 Baht (200 USD) annually.
Distribution of school supplies
Most of the supplies are bought in Mae Sot and sent to the schools. There is only one school (Ta Mai Khee), where the supplies are paid for in cash and bought in Karen State. The supplies are carried by car from Mae Sot to Mae Sam Lap, which is about six hours by road and five hours by boat to Mae Nu Hta (storage place). The committee members, teachers and students then come to Mae Nu Hta and carry the supplies to their schools. The closest school is half a day’s walk and the furthest is at least a week’s journey on foot.