Schol­ar­ship pro­gram sends Myan­mar stu­dents abroad

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse - PYONE AYE py­one­suaye@gmail.com

WANT to study abroad? Here’s your chance. United World Col­leges is a net­work of in­ter­na­tional schools that of­fers stu­dents the chance to study abroad at col­leges around the world.

New schools have re­cently been es­tab­lished in Dil­i­jan, Ar­me­nia; Chang­shu, China; and Freiburg, Ger­many. Each school unites a cou­ple hun­dred stu­dents, aged 16 to 19, who to­gether rep­re­sent more than 50 na­tion­al­i­ties. Stu­dents at­tend a UWC for two years, tak­ing up the In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate Di­ploma Pro­gram (IBDP).

“UWC has changed my life and my opin­ion on a lot of things such as race, gen­der and re­li­gion,” said Sue Hsan, who grad­u­ated from the Li Po Chun school in Hong Kong in 2013.

Sue Hsan was ac­cepted into UWC in 2011, be­com­ing the first fe­male to at­tend a UWC from Myan­mar. She said that her ed­u­ca­tion in Myan­mar was “not the best” and felt frus­trated by the nar­row range of ca­reers young women are en­cour­aged to pur­sue.

“We don’t re­ally have a lot of chances to fig­ure out what we re­ally want to do with our fu­ture and ca­reer,” she said.

Most Myan­mar stu­dents learn through the gov­ern­ment ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, which tends to fo­cus on rote text­book learn­ing. Stu­dents take a lim­ited set of sub­jects, highly fo­cused on core ar­eas such as math, science and lit­er­a­ture.

Tha Lang Len, who will grad­u­ate from the Maas­trict school in the Nether­lands in 2017, told The Myan­mar Times that UWC of­fered her a chance to learn in a new way.

“Ed­u­ca­tion in Myan­mar is more about ab­sorb­ing facts,” she said. “In UWC, it is more about pro­duc­ing self-un­der­stand­ing and cre­ativ­ity.”

The Bac­calau­re­ate pro­gram re­quires stu­dents to take sub­jects across mul­ti­ple dis­ci­plines, in­clud­ing ones such as hu­man­i­ties and art not cov­ered in Myan­mar’s cur­ric­ula. In ad­di­tion to aca­demics, stu­dents are also en­cour­aged to par­tic­i­pate in an ex­ten­sive ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties pro­gram and ser­vice ini­tia­tives.

Khin Myint Myat Zin, who grad­u­ated from the At­lantic school in Wales this year, said that she was in­volved in many dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties while in UWC in­clud­ing eco-fash­ion de­sign, yoga, and model United Na­tions. She also vol­un­teered her time help­ing refugees in Cardiff through an English-teach­ing pro­gram.

“It was a ful­fill­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. I be­came more tol­er­ant and open­minded – a global citizen,” Khin said.

UWC tu­ition fees can cost up to US$60,000. How­ever, most stu­dents at the col­leges are on par­tial or full schol­ar­ships. Last year, four par­tial and full schol­ar­ships were awarded to Myan­mar high school stu­dents through the UWC Myan­mar Na­tional Com­mit­tee at Thabyay Ed­u­ca­tion. The next ap­pli­ca­tion sea­son will close on Jan­uary 31.

The ap­pli­ca­tion process is rig­or­ous. It starts with a writ­ten ap­pli­ca­tion, af­ter which se­lected ap­pli­cants are asked to take an ap­ti­tude test. Can­di­dates who achieve ad­e­quate scores will be in­vited to at­tend se­lec­tion ac­tiv­i­ties and in­ter­views.

Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, some stu­dents go on to con­tinue their stud­ies abroad, in­clud­ing in the United States. The Na­tional Com­mit­tee, which helps se­lect the stu­dents cho­sen for UWC schools, hopes that stu­dents will later re­turn to Myan­mar and use what they have learnt abroad to give back to so­ci­ety.

“I have be­come more en­thu­si­as­tic to help other peo­ple and work for a good cause,” says Khin Myint Myat.

Photo: Sup­plied

Stu­dents cel­e­brate Model United Na­tions Day at Li Po Chun UWC in Hong Kong.

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