United World Schools
In keeping with our mission of compassion and our vision to be a force for positive change, ISY has partnered with UWS to build a school in Myanmar.
The United World Schools Project
In line with our mission statement identifying ISY as a community of compassionate global citizens, and our vision to develop lifelong learners who will be a force for positive change in the world ISY set out eight strategic themes early in 2018. One of these strategic themes establishes service learning as a means to engage as global citizens. Service learning encourages students to work with the community, identify real needs and then provides our students with the opportunity to research, plan, reflect, discuss, and learn from their service experiences.
ISY wanted to create a school wide initiative in this area and after investigating various options has decided to partner with the charity United World School (UWS). UWS is an organization that works with communities to develop schools. They build a school, train teachers from the local community, provide instructional materials, and support the school for ten years. After ten years, the goal is to turn the school over to the community and to monitor it from arms length at that point. UWS has worked in Cambodia for 10 years and has almost 100 schools there. It also works in Nepal but more recently has started working in Myanmar.
In the 2018-2019 school year, the ISY Community raised the first year requirement of $30,000 USD through a series of charitable events. These included a sponsored sports day, an ongoing ice-bucket challenge, a family fun night and a charity brunch hosted by Byblos Pub and Grill. ISY also had some generous individual sponsors who helped us reach the target. The first year $30,000 pays for the initial cost of building the school and hiring the first local teacher. The next 9 years of this project requires ISY to raise $10,000 a year.
United World Schools
2019 Funds Goal
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the financial commitment for ISY?
The first year requires a commitment of $30,000 USD. This covers the build of the school and the hire and training of the first UWS teacher. ISY raised this amount in the 2018-19 school year. Thereafter, ISY is required to raise $10,000 per year for a further 9 years.
Where is the school located?
The village is called Wan Kong and it is in the hills in the Eastern part of Shan State equidistant from the borders of Laos, Thailand and China.
Here is a link to the satellite image of the village and if you zoom out you can get a feel for the location.
How long will we be a partner for?
ISY intends to sponsor the building of a school, and then support it in successive years. This will be approximately 10 years. For more information about UWS school sponsorship, visit this UWS page.
Will other schools or organizations also partner with ‘our’ school?
ISY will be the only partner (sponsor) of the school we are matched with.
Do the students use the standard Myanmar educational curriculum?
Yes. This means that the students can transfer to other schools (government-run). The difference is UWS teachers are provided with professional development through UWS to use effective instructional strategies. ISY will have opportunities to be involved in this professional development, if we wish to be.
What will be the language of instruction and will English be taught?
The main language of instruction will be Burmese although some Shan will also be spoken initially to cater for children with limited Burmese. English will be taught as a subject as it is part of the Burmese curriculum.
What grades will the school have / what ages will the students be?
Currently, the UWS Myanmar schools provide schooling for primary school children (elementary school) Grades 1 – 4.
If the school is an elementary school (Grades 1 to 4 in the Myanmar system) how does UWS encourage children to further attend a middle school (Grades 5 to 8) and a high school (Grades 9 and 10)?
In Cambodia, UWS teamed up with a secondary school to provide boarding facilities so students who finished schooling in the village schools could go on to secondary school. They are exploring similar opportunities in Myanmar.
Does UWS provide school supplies to the students? Lunch?
Yes. Through the sponsorship we will be providing, all school costs for students are covered, including school supplies, uniform, lunch, and any other expenses/. This is another way for our school to engage with our partner school through classes at ISY taking on sponsorship of specific students.
Will we be able to visit the school and what grades at ISY might do this?
We are exploring ways to make visits a part of future Week Without Walls (WWW) trips. This will depend on the exact location of the school we sponsor. These trips might be folded into our existing WWW structure, or could be optional trips for students to choose to participate in.
Where will ISY students and staff stay when we visit the school?
ISY students and staff will stay in the local village.
How can a parent donate?
There will be a number of fundraising activities and any ideas for fundraising are welcome. The business office has a separate account set up for donations for this project and these can be made either online or directly at the business office.
What is UWS? How long have they been operating? Where are they based? In which other countries are they working?
UWS is a UK-based organization that has been working with communities in Cambodia to develop schools since 2008. UWS opened its first school in Nepal in 2016. It started working in Myanmar in 2013. For more information, visit the UWS home page.
Will ISY teachers/administrators be able to do some teach the teachers training?
Yes, this is a possibility and is part of our initial plan.
Where will the money come from to fund the UWS school?
All the money to fund the school will come from fundraising activities within the ISY Community.
Will ISY need to have an additional staff dedicated to the management of this partnership?
No, UWS will run the school. There will be a committee of existing staff, students, and community members who will liaise with UWS and coordinate ways ISY can positively contribute to the UWS school through the Service Learning program.
How will this project benefit ISY students?
Participation in meaningful service projects gives students opportunities to develop skills beyond the classroom. The UWS partnership is expected to be an important element in ISY’s school-wide service learning program providing a vehicle to engage all of our students in the components of effective service learning. While projects like this look good on future college and employment applications, the most important aspect of this project is it contributes to developing a sense of compassion within a larger world view, supporting both the mission and vision of ISY.
How does the UWS partnership enhance ISY’s service learning?
An important part of the partnership is the opportunity for students and faculty from both schools to work together and develop a long-term relationship. ISY students are encouraged to think about the reasons behind the need for the service, engaging them with the school to identify real needs and then providing our students with the opportunity to research, plan, reflect, discuss, and learn from their service experiences in ways that help them to make connections to the community and to their larger world view. Ultimately, this ties into the ISY mission and vision.
Will we still be able to fund other service learning initiatives such as Yangon Animal Shelter and Community Kitchen?
Yes, ISY will continue to work with other organizations as part of the ISY Service Learning program.
To what extent will ISY be involved in the running of the school?
The school ISY sponsors will be a UWS managed school. UWS is responsible for all aspects of the school. ISY will provide sponsorship and can be as engaged with the school as much, or as little, as we wish. ISY will not run the school.
What grades at ISY will participate in working with the UWS school?
The program will be a school wide initiative, providing all students to engage in different types of learning. That doesn’t mean that all grades will actually visit the school.
How will ISY deal with communication challenges due to language barriers?
ISY is lucky to have many Burmese speakers at the school who can help with this issue. UWS are experienced at working with sponsors who do not share a common language with the students and this was highlighted during the recent trip to Cambodia where the language barrier did not present a problem.
To what extent are local Myanmar individuals involved in the current projects in Myanmar?
UWS works alongside the local community to build schools. Local community members are trained as teachers. At all times, the local Myanmar community is engaged and a part of the process. For more information on how UWS works with the local community, please visit the Myanmar section of their website.
To what extent is UWS working with the Myanmar government?
UWS is in contact with, and works alongside the Myanmar Ministry of Education. UWS has met with the Minister of Education for the Shan State, who has endorsed their work and given them the license to operate. UWS does not develop a school in a community unless it is invited to.
How can we be sure the UWS school will be successful?
- Stability: UWS work exclusively with post-conflict and stable communities. They work with both the community and local government to manage risks on an ongoing basis.
- Land rights: UWS checks land rights and community ownership at the very early stages of village reconnaissance. They only build schools where the land allocation is safe and appears fair to the whole community
- How is UWS different: The main ways are that UWS is locally anchored but with a national licence to operate. Their teams visit regularly and have developed a sustainable funding model which means that schools won’t be abandoned. To-date they have built 148 schools in ten years and all are still operating.
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