MNEC Background Information
Mon National Education Committee Overview
MNEC is a community based organization providing education services to Mon communities primarily in Burma. Their headquarters are based in Nyisar (Bee Ree area), within Mon State, which is a one-day journey from Thanbyuzayat by truck in the dry season. MNEC was founded in 1972, when the New Mon State Party (NMSP) formed a Mon Central Education Department (CED) to set up the first Mon National schools.
While the government education system encourages non-Burman students to assimilate by learning and speaking Burmese, “the main objectives of the Mon education system are to preserve and promote Mon literature… Mon culture and history, to not forget the Mon identity.” (For more information see Appendix 9 and Mon Nationalism and Civil War in Burma: The Golden Sheldrake by Ashley South, page 193). As a result, in MNEC primary schools, all subjects are taught in Mon except for Burmese and English language classes. In middle schools history is taught in Mon and other subjects in Burmese, while in high schools all subjects are taught in Burmese.
There are currently 231 schools run by MNEC in Mon State and on the Burmese side of the Thai border. Of these, 136 are administered solely by MNEC (as Mon National Schools), and 95 are ‘mixed’ schools, which are administered by the Minisry of Education with some MNEC support. Most of these schools are primary level, but some are middle schools and 3 are high schools. Bop Htaw Education provides the highest level of education in the MNEC system. MNEC schools are located in Southern Mon State, Northern Tanintharyi Division and parts of Southwest Karen State.
Overview and History of the Bop Htaw Education Empowerment Program
Bop Htaw Education Empowerment Program (BHEEP), formerly Mon Post-10, consists of four years total two years as residential and two years as internship. The first year is located in Nyisar, where students receive elementary and pre-intermediate English upgrading and social studies content from local Mon teachers (in a non-immersive environment).
The second year is located in Mawlamyine, Mon State, where the curriculum, as developed by World Education Thailand in 2011-12, focuses on intermediate to advanced English as well as teacher training and education management. Upon graduation from the program, the students work as teachers for MNEC schools for two years.
In April 2015, MNEC Committee members voted to change the name of Mon Post-10 to Bop Htaw Education Empowerment Program – Bop Htaw being the Mon language name of the Golden Sheldrake icon used as a symbol of Mon identity. The name change was chosen to differentiate the program from other Post-10 programs in the Burma context as well as to better capture the specific work, a focus on teacher training and education improvement.
2000 – MNEC opens Mon Post-10 in Nyisar as an English upgrading program hoping to prepare students to access university scholarships
2006 – MNEC opens a Second Year in Sangkhlaburi, Thailand, which is taught by volunteer foreign teachers
2006-2009 – the Second Year program is run jointly by MNEC and the Mon Women’s Organization; teachers continue to be foreign volunteers; MWO eventually leaves to concentrate on smaller training focusing on women’s issues
2009 – World Education Thailand visits Sangkhlaburi and decides to partner with MNEC
2009-2015 – under World Education’s USAID funding, 2 full-time foreign teachers are hired and salaried for Second Year and annual funding is provided for the First Year program
2010 – Teaching and Education Management are introduced as a technical specialization within the curriculum to prepare graduates for expected work with MNEC
April 2015 – Mon Post-10 renamed as Bop Htaw Education Empowerment Program.
August 2015 – funding from USAID ends and Second Year program funded independently of MNEC through online crowfunding and a small grant from the Slingshot Development Fund
April 2016 – Second Year moves to Thanbyuzayat Town, Mon State for greater access to beneficiaries, MNEC stakeholders and Burmese education networks
June 2016-Present – Bop Htaw Second Year is funded by Child’s Dream Higher Education Dempartment
November 2016 Second Year removes to Mawlamyine City, Mon State due to foreign visa and local immigration and also for greater access to beneficiaries, CBOs and Burmese education networks
Questions and answers about BHEEP
How are BHEEP students recruited for Year 1& Y2?
Beginning in Jan/Feb, BHEEP Second Year and First Year staff begin developing promotional materials for new student recruitment
After the academic year ends in April, BHEEP staff distribute applications, conduct community information sessions and notify potential students of the recruitment schedule
In May, interested applicants submit their application and sit an entrance examination, which is typically held in 3-4 locations (Mawlamyine, Thanbyuzayat, Ye, Nyisar)
What is the student profile like?
There are varying numbers of applicants for the BHEEP course, though the ideal number of students is between 20-30 with several students dropping out over the course of the year.
The male-female ratio is typically 1:1 and most students are between the ages of 17-25.
All students have completed high-school or are degree holder, although not all would have passed the matriculation exam.
It is usually a 50/50 mix of students who have attended MNEC high school and students who have attended Burmese Government high school.
A majority of the students are likely to be enrolled as University Distance Education (UDE) students, and a few may have even already graduated from university [note: as of 2017 students are not allowed to attend both Second Year and UDE]
What will MNEC students do when they finish Bop Htaw Education?
After finishing the two academic years, graduates usually teach Summer English Courses at monasteries and other community centers from April-May
Beginning in June, graduates work for MNEC under a two years internship in Southeastern Burma.
Interns spend the vast majority of their time teaching but sometimes they help in MNEC offices in Nyisar, Wang Sepaw and Ang Dan. Most interns will work at primary schools or middle schools, though some will work in high schools.
After their two-year internship is finished, alumni often apply for scholarships for further study. Some work in CBOs or NGOs in Burma and others continue working for MNEC.
How is it decided where and what the students will teach upon graduation of Bop Htaw Education?
MNEC Committee Members in Nyisar decide where the students will work. The Committee Members considers the current needs of communities and which areas the students want to be placed. They also consider the students’ preference for level and subject areas. Moreover, the MNEC Committee will accept recommendations from the Second Year Staff and teachers.
Once the students are placed in their schools, they discuss with the school head and fellow teachers what they will teach. The students usually teach English as well as a range of other subjects, including science, math, history, Mon, and Burmese.
Here is a brief summary of the staff members’ most important daily, weekly, monthly, trimester end and general responsibilities.
Everybody is responsible for ensuring that the programs reach their goals and in order to do this, they should also be aware of the basic MNEC policies, failure to follow these rules will result in a meeting with senior staff members and the possibility of probation or other disciplinary procedures. These standards of behavior are in place to ensure an environment of quality learning and responsible living at the MNEC school. Every member of the school from staff to students has a right to expect that his or her educational experience will take place in an environment free from threats, danger, harassment or unwanted disruption.
1. Confidentiality and Security
Teachers have a responsibility to maintain the confidentiality and security of students as much as possible. This means requesting student permission to use photographs of any kind in any way as well as getting permission for the publication or dissemination of student work. Particular attention should be made to student names and other student information and care should be taken to who has access to this information. When in doubt, ask the person concerned.
2. Student Relationships
Teachers are expected to maintain normal student-teacher relationships at all times. Teachers must behave in an appropriate and culturally sensitive way. They must not hit, physically assault, or inappropriately touch students; use language, make suggestions or offer advice which is inappropriate, offensive or abusive; behave in a manner that is sexually provocative; act in ways intended to shame, humiliate, belittle or degrade students, or otherwise perpetrate any form of emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Teachers of the opposite sex must not be alone in the dorm with a student.
3. Teacher Relationships
Teachers should refrain from romantic relationships with each other during the school year. They should also refrain from discussing their romantic life at school, particularly in the hearing and presence of students.
4. Drugs and Alcohol
Staff members and representatives of the organization are expected not to use or be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while working or during work hours. For teachers, work hours are considered to extend to all time spent on the school compound, whether within “work hours” or not.
5. Attendance & Lateness
Teachers are expected to be on time for all classes. Wherever possible, plans for teacher absence (for personal days, etc) should be made in advance in coordination with other teachers and staff. In the case of illness, teachers should make their best attempt to inform other teachers and staff as soon as possible to arrange for cover.
It is, however, recognized that this is not always possible. As a result, teachers are asked to prepare 2-3 lessons (ex. a movie unit) that can be used in the case that they are unable to attend a class. They should give these lessons to their co-teacher, though the co-teacher can have the freedom to teach another topic if they wish.
If a teacher has a serious condition and is likely to be absent for an extended period of time (ex. a week or more), the BHEEP Coordinator should be contacted in order to provide a longer-term solution, such as organizing a training or substitute. Teachers must be flexible and be willing to step in to teach or find class coverage in the case that their colleague is sick. Though, it is expected that this teacher can make up the time, by having their co-teacher return the favor, or teach a double-shift when they return in order to give the other teacher a day off.
6. Performance appraisal and grievances
Performance appraisals provide opportunities to reflect on the teacher’s work, focus on areas of strength and development, review the supervisor-employee relationship and devise strategies for improving job performance. Teachers will receive their first performance appraisal within the first trimester to assess the three-month probationary period. Please note that serious issues warranting attention will and can be addressed at any time. Please consult the Program Coordinator for more details.
Reimbursement of certain purchases is possible if a receipt is shown and the purchase is approved by the Program Coordinator. School, office and hostel materials should be able to be reimbursed as should all travel related to work including motorbike petrol (see below).
Basic school, office and hostel materials should be purchased as everyone agree on needed, though it is recommended that purchases first be approved by the Program Coordinator. When purchasing items for the school, office and hostel, you must have a receipt to claim your reimbursement. During Monday meetings, a list will be made of needed weekly supplies. In emergency situations, you can purchase needed items but please notify the Program Coordinator first.
Local staff are permitted small perdiems if they are required to travel for work. Though foreign staff are ineligible for perdiems, they can claim costs for bus/air fare and guesthouse stays. If you are planning a work-related trip, you must submit an estimated expense report to the Program Coordinator before your trip.
8. School Motorbike and Office Equipment
BHEEP has two school motorbikes that should be prioritized for work-related use and internship coordinator field trip. If you wish to use it for personal use, you must first check with the Program Coordinator or teachers. If staff bring their own motorbike to Mawlamyine to use, they can be reimbursed for travel expenses but only if they provide receipts.
BHEEP upgraded its office equipment in 2019, and it is very important that all office equipment be regularly maintained and treated with respect. Many of the students will need to be taught how to use the office equipment, and their use of the equipment should be monitored to ensure that they are not mistreating the equipment. This includes the use of the printer, projector, and laptops.
9. Cash Advance
Cash advances are available for project costs (ex: Intern Support Project trainings, visa trips, conference fees). Full cash advances are not permitted for staff salaries, although if staff need to request funds for emergency situations, they can speak directly to the Program Coordinator.
School Policies for students
BHEEP students will be expected to follow these rules while attending the program. Failure to follow these rules may result in a student being expelled from the school. The standards for academic and campus conduct and behavior are in place to ensure quality learning and responsible living in the school and hostels. Every member of the BHEEP community has the right to expect that their academic and social life at the school will take place in an environment free from danger, harassment, or unwanted disruption.
English Immersion in BHEEP Campus
Students are expected to try to speak only English when in the classroom, kitchen and hostels. This means English is expected to be spoken both inside the classroom and outside the classroom. Students can speak other languages under special circumstances.
When they buy food from the market
When they have friends or family visit them who cannot speak English
When they are doing translation and interpretation work.
There are also some activities that can be discussed on a case-by-case basis with the students at the beginning of the year. For example:
When visiting CBOs where the staff speak English, but address the students in Mon
When at a party or special event where the majority of people in attendance are speaking Mon
When addressing authority figures