Scholarship program sends Myanmar students abroad
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.
Students celebrate Model United Nations Day at Li Po Chun UWC in Hong Kong.