How the Myanmar Teachers Project transformed Daw Nan’s life

Daw Nan Khan Kyi is a 31 year old teacher at Dhamma Suka Nun, a small locally-run primary school in Myanmar. Here, like in many regional areas in the country, few parents can afford to send their children to government-run schools, relying instead upon schools established by local Buddhist organisations to provide their children with access to education.

Unfortunately, the majority of these locally-run schools cannot afford to pay their teachers, leaving them reliant upon donations from the local community. In disadvantaged communities, such as Daw Nan Khan Kyi’s, teachers struggle to live off the meagre donations. This means that they are often forced out of teaching in order to find a job that better allows them to provide for themselves and their family. Ultimately, this means that many children miss out on a quality education.

In 2014 Daw Nan found herself in a difficult position. Although she loved teaching and helping children to grow, develop and learn, she was struggling to make enough money to survive. Living with her family to conserve funds, she often felt down about her reliance upon them to support her and her lack of financial contribution to her family’s food and medical care. The school was unable to increase her salary as they were struggling to collect the donations that made up Daw Nan’s wage.

But just when Daw Nan was thinking about leaving the job she loved, her school got the chance to be a part CUFA’s Teachers Project and her circumstances dramatically changed. The news that all of the teachers at the local school would have their salaries supplemented sent a wave of relief and hope through the entire teaching staff.

The Teachers Project, which is funded by Teachers Mutual Bank, Victoria Teachers Mutual Bank, QT Mutual Bank and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, aims to help teachers working and living in disadvantaged commu­­­­­nities in Myanmar by financially empowering the community as a whole. Providing funds to community owned financial institutions, CUFA works with them to generate interest and grow their loan pools. This interest is then used to supplement the salaries of teachers who, before the project, often struggled to survive on less than $2 a day.

Having received supplements since June 2014, Daw Nan can now contribute more money towards her family’s needs and feels like she has found herself again.

“This supplement has been a great support to all of the teachers at this school.  Everyone is much happier now that our salary has increased and will increase further in June 2015,” says Daw Nan.

“We now feel less tension and strain with this salary supplement and I can dedicate my time to teaching and taking care of the children rather than worrying about how I will support my own family.”

Daw Nan says that children are much happier now, as the great weight that has been lifted off their teachers’ shoulders has resulted in a more positive class environment. She insists that the parents are also extremely pleased to see their children happy and receiving a quality education.

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