Supporting 73 Village Nursery Schools This Year

nursery school students 2

We are half way through the school year here and KWO is supporting 73 village nursery schools spread across 5 areas in Karen State, Burma. Many of these students have been displaced by the Burmese military and the long standing civil war.  We are so pleased that this year we have been able to support these schools serving over 3000 Karen children.

The Burmese education system has been terribly underfunded.  A large portion of the Burmese government treasury goes to the military despite the fact that we have no external enemies.  This means parents must pay for their children to attend in the poorest country in South East Asia.  The average level of education in Burma is just 4 years. For areas dominated by ethnic minorities the education level is lower and poverty higher.

This makes our Nursery School project even more important.  Each community builds and maintains their own bamboo or wooden school and forms a nursery school committee to support it and the teacher.  Through a grant from Dave and Kerry Rickards we are able to provide training, a small stipend to the teachers along with some materials and supplies.  Through private donations we provide lunch.  We still haven’t raised all the money we need to feed all 3000 students through the end of the year, but we are happy to have been able to do it so far. We continue to apply for additional funding to fill the gaps.  We have so far raised about 60% of the overall budget including the food. Just $25 feeds one child lunch for the school year.

One 5 year old student spoke the simple truth when he said, “I am happy to go to nursery school because of every day I get snack, lunch, and food. I have a lot of friends in school and we play together. If I did not go to nursery school I would go with my parents to the field.  The field it is not fun for me. In the past when I went with my parents to the field, the insects bit my body. My body got a wound. It itched so much! If I finish nursery school I will go to primary school.”

Nursery School 5

A parent in Noe Poe Htee Moo Hta said, “Because we send our children to nursery school our children look so healthy and fresh, not like before, because they eat, sleep and play regularly. They are growing up quicker than before. If we compare two children’s condition the first one going to nursery school and the second one not, we can see the difference.”  A parent in Do Tha Htu district said, “Because of the nursery school we work in our field free all day from worry. When we send our children to nursery school we get two advantages. First, we go to the field to work not worrying that our children will fall down, swim in the stream, climb the trees, eat unclean foods or get hurt by someone else. Secondly, we see that their condition is better than before. They can read and write the Karen, English, and Burmese alphabet. It is a basic thing they need to go to the primary school. They can sing songs and dance. They have confidence. If someone asks them to stand in front of people and sing, they can do it, they are not afraid anything.”

 We want all our children to have confidence and not be afraid of anything.

Nursery 4

Nursery School 3

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About Karen Women Organisation

The Karen Women Organisation was formed in 1949 and has a membership of over 64,100 women. KWO is a community-based organisation of Karen women working in development and relief in the refugee camps on the Thai border and with IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) and women inside Burma. Since our formation in 1949 we have expanded our focus from one of purely social welfare to try to encourage an awareness of Women's Rights and to promote women’s participation in the community decision making and political processes. The objectives of the KWO  To assist women in the endeavour to be free from all forms of oppression.  To promote and empower women in all spheres of life, including education and general living standards.  To encourage women to participate in the struggle for freedom, democracy and equality.  To develop women's knowledge, ability and skills, including political and organizational skills.  To achieve the rights of women and equal status with men.  To promote and maintain Karen culture and traditions.  To improve the well-being of women and children and to increase their access to adequate health, education and welfare services. KWO aims to empower women through offering various capacity building trainings to teach skills, build confidence and create new opportunities so that women will be better able to solve problems. We are working hard to educate ourselves and our communities so that we can work more effectively and advocate for our struggle on the international stage. We believe that women’s contribution is an essential factor in the peace-building and national reconciliation processes of Burma.