Program helps expand teacher resources, reach in Myanmar and Thailand

IU faculty with Burmese teacher participants in front of Museum Siam in Bangkok, Thailand

School shutdowns due to the pandemic in 2019 and a military coup in 2021 left teachers in Myanmar without access to professional development resources and training. A program from the IU School of Education Global & International Engagement is helping to change that.

Over the summer, GIE put together a two-week intensive Teacher Professional Development Program for Burmese Teacher Trainers. The program is a collaboration between the IU School of Education and the National Institute for Development Administration (NIDA) in Bangkok, Thailand. Four faculty from IU, including Faridah Pawan, Susan Drumm and Adam Scribner from the IU School of Education and Donna Albrecht from IU Southeast, and four faculty from NIDA taught intensive courses on technology integration in instruction, online pedagogy, STEM instruction and assessment, content-based English language instruction through storytelling, discourse strategies, and identity in second language acquisition. NIDA awarded graduate credits and a certificate to participants that transfer to degree programs. The certificate provides an essential document for Myanmar teacher trainers that validates their expertise.

Top: IU faculty with Burmese teacher participants; bottom left: IU faculty with Burmese teacher participants in front of Museum Siam in Bangkok, Thailand; bottom right: STEM Education Initiatives Director Adam Scribner guides participants in project-based science instruction

“The 2021 military coup in Burma (also known as Myanmar) has created an urgent need for the educators to support their teachers. Technology and e-learning are critical life lines for the educators, as well as knowledge of the English language, to help them gain access to and distribute information,” Pawan said. Pawan is Professor and Faculty Fellow of GIE, as well as the IU ASEAN Gateway Academic Director.

Seventeen Burmese Thai teacher educators participated in the program. The effect on the program to these teachers is multiplicative: with their newfound knowledge from the program, they will train up to 100 additional teachers that provide education to more than a thousand Burmese youth whose education has been interrupted. 

NIDA is the central training institute for Thailand’s leaders and considers IU as one of its longest and strongest partners of over 50 years. It’s a partnership that will continue thanks to support from School of Education Dean Anastasia Morrone and NIDA President Tippawan Lorsuwannarat, with outside agencies already expressing interest to further fund the program. 

The program was funded from the Proffitt and Tilaar grants, as well as grants from the IU Office of the Vice President for International Affairs. IU is already getting further recognition for their work in the area: recently, the university has been awarded the Outstanding Community Partner Award by the Burmese American Community Institute.