The nature of rural social structures in Myanmar means there are countless pockets of isolated communities with fewer than 50 out-of-school children. Government and other NGOs resources cannot stretch to supporting these groups. UWS believes that every child has the right to education and our mission is to help those that are in hard to reach areas. Recognising that there are many smaller communities in need of education, we have developed community learning sites to be able to provide a life-changing education to those that are most isolated from the national system.

A standard UWS school serves communities where there are approximately 150 out-of-school children, allowing us to scale in a sustainable and cost-efficient manner. However, to deliver quality primary education to as many out-of-school children as possible in Myanmar, we have been piloting a new model of community learning sites, which serve smaller communities of 30-50 children.

Community learning sites are comparatively low-cost as they have minimal set-up costs. Instead of constructing a school building, we make essential repairs to an existing community structure in which we can deliver lessons. We then resource them with whiteboards, learning games, reading books and everything needed to transform the buildings into functional, interactive learning environments. As in all of our schools, we train community teachers who can teach students in a language they understand and are sensitive to local educational needs. Throughout the pilot we refined the model and have now opened 23 community learning sites, which has enabled us to reach a further 500 children in Shan State.

At the heart of the model is flexibility. No two community learning sites look the same. Over time, community learning sites with high enrolment figures might be upgraded to a small school, while others will continue to provide quality primary education within the original community structure. Flexibility is what makes community learning sites so successful, as they can adapt to the exact needs of a community. By not being tied to a prescriptive framework, the community learning sites programme can be scaled quickly and economically, moving nimbly to reach smaller pockets of out-of-school children.

After the success of the pilot in Myanmar, we recently decided to roll-out the community learning sites in Cambodia and Nepal. Successful reconnaissance trips have already identified suitably sized communities who would otherwise have no hope of educating their children. 

These communities are now awaiting a sponsor; please get in contact if you can help us put more out-of-school children into education.