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Connexus : Issue 42
Myanmar project targets teaching With financial support from two mutual banks, CUFA is helping teachers in Myanmar bring education to some of the nation's poorest children. BY STEPHANIE BROWN As part of their corporate citizenship programs, Victoria Teachers Mutual Bank and QT Mutual Bank are collaborating to support CUFA's Teachers Project in Myanmar. Myanmar (formerly Burma) has been ravaged by civil unrest for the past 60 years, but is now more peaceful and in a period of growth. Providing the nation's children with an education will be critical if it is to prosper in the future. Although a government school scheme is in place in Myanmar, many people in poor communities can't afford to send their children to the user-pays system. To overcome this, communities have come together to establish informal schools where the teachers are working for very low incomes. The challenge is to provide the teachers with salaries appropriate to their dedication and commitment to providing a good quality education to the children enrolled. The teachers are currently relying on limited and insuffcient community donations, and often have to seek employment elsewhere to complement their pay. They don’t feel they are valued and their engagement in teaching suffers as they str uggle to survive week by week. CUFA would like to see a more long- term and sustainable solution to the problem. It will use the money from local village savings and the two mutual banks to provide loans to local credit union members. Interest from the loans will go towards the teachers’ salaries. Shaping lives The CUFA Teachers Project in Myanmar will beneft not only the teachers, but also entire communities in the long term, says QT Mutual Bank CEO Mike Mu rphy. "Teachers are one of the most valuable resources in any community, in any country. The role teachers play in shaping children into the adults they will become can't be overstated," he says. "Allowing the teachers in Myanmar to concentrate on educating the local children is something we are extremely proud to support. "CUFA's sustainable vision for this project makes it a great initiative which will help the country to continue to grow and prosper.” Victoria Teachers CEO William Wolke says his mutual bank is similarly proud to be involved in the project. "We are pleased to be able to reallocate our CUFA donation to a project directly aligned to teachers and their local community. Being an education-based organisation, we understand the importance of education in building social capacity in communities,” Wolke says. Children attending classes in Myanmar CUFA's sustainable vision for this project makes it a great initiative which will help the country to continue to grow and prosper. 48 Connexus COMMUNITY