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Myanmar Teacher Mikey wants to change the education system

Teacher Mikey Thiri Tun leading her students to an International Competition

Mikey Thiri Tun volunteered to teach at "Phaung Daw Oo” monastic even as she was a student in grade 11. When she passed her matriculation in 2004, she was appointed as a permanent teacher.

Simultaneously, she studied Law at a distance education university and graduated and continued to teach in the Monastic School.  She was able to go to 11 countries for further studies without using a penny on her own while she is teaching at "Phaung Daw Oo" monastery school. Mikey has chosen teaching as her profession even after her graduation from the university.

Although she has the degrees, skills, and qualifications for a well-paid international career, she has chosen to remain a teacher in a monastic school because of her determination to improve the educational opportunities of poor children.

Mikey is a Catholic lady from St. Francis Xavier’s Parish, Archdiocese of Mandalay in Myanmar.

Mikey Thiri Tun with students at International Competitions

Schools in Myanmar

There are different kinds of schools in Myanmar such as State Schools, Private Schools, International Schools and Monastic Schools (Ba Ka).

There are many children who can’t even afford to attend state schools run by the government. "Phaung Daw Oo" is designed for those kinds of children. It is founded by a Buddhist monk and helped by other teachers. Not only formal education but also other vocational courses are taught there by experts from Myanmar and abroad. 

Mikey loved teaching in the Monastic School because she loved to educate the poor are marginalized children who could not afford to go to a private or Government school.

In addition, Phaung Daw Oo Monastic schools had a teaching system that does not instil fear in students’ hearts and allowed them to discuss anything freely without caring about the hierarchy. Mikey regards the teaching system of that monastic school as a deep and profound one. So, she chose to teach there to this day, although she could find a well-paying job elsewhere considering her long years of experience as a teacher.

She said, “I am always upgrading my skill. The Mikey of this semester must be different from the Mikey of last semester so as to lead my pupils as good leaders. It is not reasonable to have the same skill last semester and this semester.”

She applied for scholarships at the Asian Leadership program for youth to update herself. “Most programs chose me based on my volunteer experience. My volunteer spirit and Community contributions have supported me to get these opportunities.”

She participated in an international science competition for four consecutive years and won gold, silver, or bronze medal every year.

Teacher Mikey Thiri Tun with two Students at the International Science competition in Vietnam

Passion for Teaching

As a teacher from Monastic School, she had to face several difficulties. 

“Monastic Education is a non-profit organization and sometimes we are looked down upon by private and Government schools. For example, we are invited to attend an international education forum, but we don’t have the means to go because of some restrictions.

“Discrimination is a major hindrance to the development of the education system in the country,” says Mikey considering 17 years of her teaching career. All need to work together to change the education system of the country, which has been lagging for more than 60 years. 

She remembers taking the poor children of her school to China, Vietnam and Cambodia for the International science competition representing Myanmar as the most important milestone in her life. These were children, whose parents struggled to earn a livelihood and could not afford to pay for the education of their children

“When I see my pupils perform better than me and do good deeds for society, I feel proud and satisfied, but, on the contrary, seeing my pupils go astray from my educational path makes me painful.”

“Myself, as a teacher, I must study continuously. A teacher must undergo a lifelong learning process for oneself and the students,” explained Mikey, concerning her vision of teaching.

To support her Monastic school economically, teacher Mikey started “Open House Academy,” in 2022 under the guidance of Phaung Daw Oo Sayadaw, for teaching languages, art and dance. She intends to use the income to support the Phaung Daw Oo monastic schools which has400 teachers and staff, 3000 boarders and over 8000 students.

Qualifications and Achievements of Teacher Mikey Thiri Tun

Some Achievements of teacher Mikey 

She was awarded to study at British Council Yangon for 18 months from 2006 to 2007. She successfully completed Pre-Collegiate Program, which prepares youths for a year to be able to attend a university abroad. She graduated in Law from Mandalay Distance University in 2008-2009.

She was appointed as a judge for an international debate at Asia Youth Forum in Thailand, designed by an international education debate organization.

She won the best English-speaking skill in the second Myanmar National debate. There were 100 participants from all over Myanmar in that debate. In April 2015, she completed an exchange program for South East Asian youth leadership for the development and leadership skills of youths and adults from ASEAN countries. It is a US-based program that lasted for 3 weeks.

2016: Myanmar delegates won the bronze medal in the history of the world’s nature science competition held in Beijing, China in July 2016.  300 Delegates from nine countries participated in that program. In September 2016, she attended ASEAN Leadership Development Program as a youth leader. The International Association of Traffic and Safety Science (IATSS) lasted for 2 months.

She participated as a volunteer in the rehabilitation program of the victims of the Nargis cyclone in the Delta region of Myanmar. She drew up a basic education program with the Civic Society Initiative for children who couldn’t access formal education.

She participated in the visiting the elderly activities led by Yangon civic society from 2008 to 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he arranged the National Debate program to promote the debating ability of university students.

Since 2015, she has been teaching more than 100 students English at Bridging English Language Training Center.

In 2015-2016, she helped the Myanmar Mobile Education Project, whose intention is to promote the education and hygiene of waiters at tea shops in Mandalay, as a volunteer teacher.

In 2016, she trained ten high school students and teachers for a Science competition in Shanghai and they won 3 silver medals and 2 bronze medals.

In 2017, she did a thesis on the Myanmar Extensive Reading Program for 3 months in Edinburg, Scotland and England.

2018 - She trained community leaders and 13 high school students for Learning Across Borders Program held in Hanoi, Vietnam.

In 2019 she trained 16 high school students and university students to participate in the International Science competition (Learning Across Border Program) held in Siemens Reap, Cambodia and the group could win two awards for the best title and best citizenship.

Since 2019, she is leading Phaung Daw Oo international university committee to communicate with international organizations.

In September 2020, she was awarded Master Debate Trainer at the Debate for Democracy Master Debate Training by Hanns Seidel Foundation and Thabyay Education Foundation. Pinky Thiri Kyaw, Marcus Nyi Nyi Htun contributed to this story


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