Ausaid Annual Report
2012–13

australian agency for international development
  • Volunteering to teach in Myanmar

Volunteering to teach in Myanmar

In August 2012, the first Australian Volunteers for International Development arrived in Myanmar as part of the Australian Government's commitment to support Myanmar's historic democratic transition. Historically, Australian volunteers have had a long engagement with Myanmar communities, primarily by supporting Myanmar's refugee population based on the Thai–Myanmar border. Australian volunteers have now commenced assignments in education and aid coordination in Myanmar.

Australian volunteer Andrea Flew is based in Yangon as a Teacher Training Coordinator with the Monastic Education Centre. Despite decades of poor funding and resourcing of the nation's education system, the Buddhist monasteries played a vital role in providing access to free education for both girls and boys, irrespective of their religious backgrounds. Andrea brings more than 17 years of working in the education sector in Vietnam to her work to build the capacity of teachers at the centre.

"I became a volunteer in Myanmar because I was captivated by the opportunity to work and live in Myanmar at this time of momentous change. The diversity of my roles sees me do many different tasks. I can spend my days working with personnel on project management activities, training colleagues in teacher education, undertaking system administration or providing leadership for changing work practices. Some days I find myself teaching barefoot under the trees, because on holy grounds of monasteries no shoes are to be worn, and other days I read stories to excited students, who delight in the pictures and try their best at English interpretation. Every day is different," Andrea said.

Another Australian volunteer, David Eizenberg, is assisting with the coordination of aid in Myanmar in the office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator. The United Nations has an important role in direct delivery and coordination of aid in Myanmar and David brings to his role over 10 years experience of working with the United Nations in several locations.

Caption: Australian volunteer, Andrea Flew (middle), with Monastic Education Development Group staff member, Yin Min Thu (left), and students at the Monastic Education Centre in Yangon, Myanmar

Credit: Courtesy of Harjono Dyoyobisono, Australian Volunteers International