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Alumni organisation supporting educators

Posted: 15 September 2022

Alumni, Education, Rural development,

A group of Australia Awards alumni have combined their respective experience and qualifications in education to develop a non-for-profit organisation in Myanmar that provides high-quality educator resources, training and development.

This initiative has been transforming literacy learning spaces in Myanmar by identifying and supporting educators who would most benefit from access to professional development training and networks.

Smart Educators was founded by the four alumni in 2020, who come from diverse geographical locations, religions, and ethnicities, connected by their individual passion and expertise in education. Aye Sandar Chit, Lin Lin Htet Oo, Ei Phyu, and Myat Aye San, are all working as freelance educators.

“This organisation was established with the aim to cultivate quality education in Myanmar by empowering teachers, who are the catalysts for the change.”

[Group photo top, left to right] Aye Sandar Chit, Lin Lin Htet Oo, and Ei Phyu. [Adjacent photo] Myat Aye San. Members of Smart Educators.

The organisation is designed to meet the needs and challenges of 21st-century education while empowering educators (teachers, teacher candidates, and educational leaders) with professional knowledge, skills and values, and promoting their well-rounded development.

In 2021, due to the conflict and COVID-19 pandemic in Myanmar, there was uncertain access to education for children. The majority of students became disconnected from their schooling. As a result, community-based education service providers were progressively widespread around the country. However, the anecdotal observation highlighted that there was limited access to teachers’ professional development, especially for those from rural areas and disadvantaged communities.

This made it difficult for teachers to cope with the challenges faced in their profession. The Australia Awards alumni recognised the need for more holistic and contextualised supports, where teachers could not only receive theoretical inputs but also mentorship.

Smart Educators launched a Teacher Community program in June 2021.

The six-month teacher professional development training was aimed especially at teachers from rural areas and disadvantaged communities. Teacher Community was designed as a one-off education service for educators that offered ways of sharing knowledge, skills, and hands-on experiences, through the invitation of national and international educational experts, weekly seminars, and interactive discussions.

The program’s chief aims were to strengthen the teaching quality of novice through to veteran teachers and to encourage teachers’ practice of ongoing professional learning individually and collectively.

Smart Educators ran a callout on social media. They selected 30 participants from among 100 applicants who were carefully chosen based on teaching background, experience, location, and their needs and expectations. The age range of selected teacher participants was from 18 to 35 years old with a teaching service of at least one year.

The training was designed to cover a broad range of education areas including classroom debate and positive psychology, and to foster inclusive education and social awareness in teachers by covering topics on gender, ethics, rights and discrimination.

The Teacher Community program resulted in the development of a teacher network through which educational knowledge and experiences can continue to be shared between local and international educators.

Smart Educators received positive feedback from the Teacher Community program with a high percentage of participants indicating that their confidence had increased as teachers and that they would like to attend more courses offered.

As an organisation, they have also pursued a five-month research program as a situational analysis of the training offered to support evidence-based grounds for future initiatives.

These four alumnae completed their Australia Awards Scholarship at different universities across Australia. Aye Sandar Chit completed her Master of Education at University of Adelaide, Lin Lin Htet Oo and Myat Aye San studied their Master of Education (Leadership and Management) at Flinders University, and Ei Phyu completed her Master of Arts (Applied Linguistics for Language Teachers) at Monash University. Together, they have collaborated to create a lasting impact in education in Myanmar.