On September 14, 2018, Studer Trust hosted its 5th Abbots Meeting at Inn Jell Monastic School near Mandalay. 32 abbots as well as a number of teachers and community members attended the meeting from Studer Trust partner schools from throughout Myanmar.
To begin the meeting, the community from Inn Jell did their best to welcome all of the participants to the event. School children donated robes to all of the monks present and even performed traditional and popular dances for their guests. In preparation for the event, each grade donated local dishes for lunch, and Sayadaw Khay Mar Sara, the Inn Jell abbot, also offered a large snack bar, so if anyone happened to get hungry before or after lunch they could easily get up and get a snack.
In the morning, the Studer Trust Teacher Training Center (TTC) updated participants about its present and future programming. As of September 2018, TTC has trained 51 teachers in its fundamental and English teacher trainings as well as provided 116 teachers with the opportunity to attend a variety of short specialty workshops on topics such as incorporating 21st century skills in their classrooms, critical thinking, child protection, and a basic first aid training through a partnership with the Myanmar Red Cross Society.
TTC also started a new professional mentoring program for its alumni in 2018. The alumni mentor visits every school at least once a year to both observe and provide professional guidance on how alumni can improve their teaching practice. Thus far, the alumni mentor has visited 22schools and observed 76 teachers. The alumni mentor will visit the remaining 14 schools by the end of the year.
Leaders of the Alumni Association were also present to introduce the goal and activities of the group as well as encourage school leaders to send their teachers to the next alumni conference, which will be held in March 2019. The abbots were so inspired by the efforts of the alumni association that they suggested that they needed to create a similar group for themselves.
In the afternoon the meeting was led by the Studer Trust Operations team. First,Cho Cho, the Myanmar Country Director, presented on the status of registration process for Studer Trust. She reviewed the operational plan and updated the abbots regarding the human resource resource situation. She also explained that she is happy to assist schools if any of them are interested in doing a talent show or starting a shop to help school fundraising efforts. Furthermore, she expressed an interest in helping schools plan and offer career fairs, especially for monastic high schools in order to help their students learn about different job opportunities. The Aung Myay Oo abbot stated he was interested in starting a gift shop because his school receives many foreign visitors, and it can be a good potential market for fundraising.
Tai Lynn, the Operations Manager, shared feedback from the 4thAbbots Meeting. Most requested more school funds or contributions for teachers’ salaries for sustainable school development and to reduce teacher turnover. Some suggested to conduct vocational trainings, and most agreed that TTC is good and that they were able to see improvement in their teacher’s quality of teaching.
Studer Trust’s new field manager Naing Min Oo introduced himself and his responsibilities for the follow up program.
Tai Lynn also presented about new 2018 projects, which will be expanded to include more remote and more impoverished states and regions. Studer Trust has confirmed that it will support the construction of 1 new moanstic school and 3 government schools. Furthermore, Studer Trust is also in the process of confirming 2 more schools with donors. Studer Trust will also provide a computer center, three school playground facilities, and three school sanitation projects in 2018.
After the operation team’spresentation, abbotsfrom our affiliated schools shared and shared their knowledge and experiences. The Shwe Myo school abbot presented about his school library improvements. He shared his knowledge on the benefits and development of school libraries. The Phalankone school abbot presented on holding regular school assemblies and physical education exercises which are rarely practiced at monastic schools. He explained the importance and benefits of physical exercise in schools. He encouraged other schools to devote a small amount of time for regular practice. He also said if Studer Trust needed assistance to conduct a training at TTC, his school would be more than help to give a short training. The Lein Pin school abbot presented how to sustain the quality of developing monastic schools based on his school’sexperiences. Next, the Aung Myay Oo school abbot presented different views and perceptions on cultural differences. His school is located in the one of the most popular tourist areas and receives many visitors from a number of different countries, so he is able to have a deeper understanding of the multiple viewpoints that foreigners have regarding monastic school operations. After the panel discussion, the abbots openly discussed how to better cooperate, sustain development and support different areas. Abbots also discussed how to create a collective savings account among affiliated schools to support the schools most in need. This topic will be discussed at the next abbots meeting.
All attendants had a chance to take a tour of the host school, including recent improvements and the new school library, which was supported by Studer Trust. The entire Studer Trust family and all abbots took a group photo, and Cho Cho made a personal donation to all abbotspresent.
The Kyauk Sayit Kone school abbot has agreed to host the 6thabbots meeting in 2019, and Kan Gyi Kone school abbot proposed to host the 7thabbots meetingin 2020. Later, the Inn Jell school abbot delivered his closing remarks and the meeting was successfully completed at 5.00pm.