out-of-school children at primary level in Myanmar (UNESCO)


UWS schools open or in development


children attending school



Myanmar has suffered widespread political repression and ethnic conflict and remains one of the world’s poorest countries. UNESCO estimates that more than 250,000 children of primary school age do not attend school in Myanmar, and only 2.1% of the GDP is spent on education, one of the lowest percentages in Southeast Asia. UWS is committed to transforming the lives of out-of-school children and their communities by ensuring they have access to a quality education.

Read UWS's full statement on the current political climate in Myanmar here






UWS has been operating in Myanmar since 2013. Having initially developed five schools in the Pekon Township of Shan State, in 2015 UWS expanded to our second hub in the Tachileik Township of Eastern Shan. Both regions are home to many different ethnic groups who live in dispersed communities, far removed from basic infrastructure. Many speak only indigenous languages, and widespread stigmatisation of minority groups has left villages isolated and in poverty.



As the communities we work with are incredibly remote,  children struggle to access government schools. For many, the nearest school is a 4-5 hour walk through dense jungle. Many of the indigenous groups we work with are marginalised and under-represented, and children may be excluded from government schools as they do not speak the national language. UWS develops schools within marginalised communities to provide education for all.



Because many indigenous groups have their own language and dialect, UWS trains local community members to be teachers. The schools are built by the community in the heart of their villages, and are managed by their own local governing body, supported by trained UWS staff.

To achieve our aims, we work in partnership with national and local government, in a way that aligns with our mission, vision, values and principles. UWS has met with the Minister of Education for the Shan State, who has endorsed our work and given us the license to operate. 



Community Teacher, UWS Hway Hwe School, Tachileik District

Before joining the UWS team as a community teacher, Win Mar Htwe worked as a teacher in a community called Wa, which was over five hours walk Hway Hwe community where she is from. With no other way to earn a living, she had to leave her baby daughter behind to live with her mother, as her husband left her when their daughter was just five months old. So when UWS Hway Hwe School opened last year, Win Mar Htwe was the first to be selected as a UWS community teacher. She received further training and a fair wage, and she is thrilled to be able to support her village to access education.

Now, Win Mar Htwe works for UWS Hway Hwe School and is able to live with her daughter and mother again. Her daughter is three years old and loves coming to school with her!

Find out more about how we empower women through our schools

Read more staff and student stories here




Built in 2014, UWS Kaung Whatt School is named after the village in which it is situated. Kaung Whatt is a two-hour journey from the Pekhon Township, and is home to the Kayan La-Htach tribe. It is surrounded by steep jungle-covered hills, meaning that government facilities are out of reach for this remote village. UWS began developing a school in the community in 2014. Now, more than 80 children regularly attend the school, and there are an equal number of girls and boys enrolled. All the students learn to read and write in Myanmar's national language, and also prepare for national exams in maths, science and English. Life for the children of Kaung Whatt has been transformed. 

Want to support a community like Kaung Whatt

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UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2014
UWS Impact Data, March 2017