New Learning Center in Kanpelet

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Students in Southern Chin State government schools will benefit from teacher training program.

Kanpelet is an isolated, mountainous town in southern Chin State, about 90 miles from historic Bagan. A former British hill station where the Raj sent their families during the hot, humid months, it’s a several hours drive to Mt. Victoria, which is a tourist destination noted for its mountains and jungles. Trekkers, bird watchers and orchid fanciers come to explore Nat Ma Taung National Park. The Chin, who call themselves “mountain people” are among the poorest in Myanmar.

Cetana president Chenault Spence was invited to visit Kanpelet by Americans from Metta Partners who support the Metta Geha orphanage, and by the Parasite Committee composed of local leaders that oversee the orphanage. Around 60 children, who come from poor villages surrounding Kanpelet, live in the orphanage and attend local schools. Most orphanage residents are not actually orphans but kids from desperately poor or addicted families in the outlying villages.

Sponsors of the orphanage seek to give residents of this remote community a window on the larger world and opportunities to gain employment in tourism. Only ten residents in Kanpelet speak English, out of a population of 20,000. The surrounding village make up a much larger number of residents. Kanpelet has four primary, two middle and one high school (up to the 10th grade.)

While youngsters now attend English classes in the government schools, fluency is not a realistic prospect. With only enough textbooks for teachers, lessons are written on the blackboard and copied by students. Instruction focuses on memorizing items that will be on the matriculation exam, with no opportunities for listening or speaking.

Cetana is augmenting Kanpelet’s education resources. Cetana and Metta Partners are providing English textbooks for students. Cetana is working with the Parahita Committee to plan courses for local English teachers who teach in the primary, middle and high schools. Teacher trainers will also work with the youngsters at the orphanage. Eventually, English classes will be offered to adults and high school graduates who plan to attend college.

English teachers in the government school are enthusiastic about the additional training during the summer break. This fledgling effort is seen as the first step in creating a learning center in Kanpelet. It serves as a model for ways Cetana can serve isolated communities around the country.

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