On September 8, 2019, 27 abbots, 52 teachers, and various other community members attended Studer Trust’s 6th Abbots Meeting at Kyauk Sayit Kone Monastic School near Nay Pyi Taw, the capitol of Myanmar.
Every year, the leaders from Studer Trust’s monastic school partners come together for this one-day event to learn more about the good work of and the opportunities available to them through Studer Trust. They also have the opportunity to discuss any challenges they face and share the best practices that they have found successful at their schools. However, recently, our abbots have expressed a desire to spend more time discussing ways to address the common difficulties they experience at their schools. Therefore, this year, the Studer Trust developed and facilitated a short workshop during the meeting that helped them do just that.
Throughout the day, Studer Trust staff trained abbots on how to address the issues they face at their school using a simplified version of the Experiential Learning Cycle (ELC). ELC asks individuals to observe, analyze, and test possible solutions for challenges that they have experienced in their everyday lives. In order to successfully complete ELC, you need to note what happened, reflect on why you think it occurred, suggest a possible solution, and then implement your idea to see if it improves the challenging situation which you had identified in the first place.
In order to do this, the abbots brainstormed and selected 4 different challenges that they would like to work to improve at their schools: teacher retention, funding development, insufficient space in their classrooms and dorms, and the challenge that their teachers do not have access to quality teaching learning aids. They then divided into small groups and throughout the day, worked together to identify the causes of and possible solutions for these problems.
As a result of these efforts, the abbots were able to come up with a number of actionable and practical solutions. Both the teacher retention and funding groups proposed forming fundraising committees to develop social enterprises that create and sell traditional arts and crafts as a way to increase the amount each school can afford to pay for their teachers’ salaries. The abbots in the group focusing on insufficient space in school facilities noted that the closed quarters led to an increase in student illness and suggested developing daily healthcare activities in order to improve the health and overall hygiene of their students. Finally, the teaching learning aids group recommended training their teachers on how to use Youtube and other similar Internet resources to learn how to make effective teaching learning aids as well as providing them time during the day to create them. The abbots then shared and provided each other feedback about their ideas and then selected one of the actions proposed that they would like to implement at their school over the course of the upcoming year. The abbots stated that they found the training extremely useful and were looking forward to utilizing ELC to address these and other issues at their schools in the future.
Studer Trust would like to express its appreciation to the Kyauk Sayit Kone abbot, U Htay Rainda, for hosting the training as well as all of our partners and generous donors for their continued support of our projects and programs. Because of them, Studer Trust looks forward to continuing to make a lasting impact on the communities we serve now and for years to come.