Thousands of children have been displaced by ongoing conflict in Myanmar, limiting their access to education, psycho-social support and protection. Determined to ensure the conflict doesn’t rob children of their future, Plan International Germany is working to provide quality education and life skills training for children and young people affected, as part of the EU’s Children of Peace initiative.
The project will benefit over 11,500 children and teenagers, targeting different age groups with activities that respond to the different needs of children in a participatory and responsive way.
Before the project started, children in the area had limited access to basic education, sanitation facilities, or child protection mechanisms. Many of the children were not able to attend classes because there were too few schools, and too few qualified teachers. Those schools there were tended to be ill-equipped, lacking furniture and basic teaching materials.
Now, however, almost 4,500 children are able to attend lessons in classrooms that have been furnished with new tables and chairs. Teaching materials have also been provided, while trained teachers are passing on their knowledge to local teachers, ensuring sustainability.
Hygiene promotion sessions are also conducted by teachers and volunteers, who have been trained for this purpose. Before that, Maung La, an 11 year-old boy from Zai Awng IDP camp, suffered regularly from diarrhea, which, at times, was so serious that he believed he would die. Through the hygiene promotion sessions he learnt how to prevent diarrhea and is sharing this information with his siblings, as well as his friends and neighbors.
Thanks to this initiative, 26 hand-washing stations are being constructed. They are designed to be easily accessible for children and mostly located at the latrines close to temporary learning spaces and Child Friendly Spaces (CFS).
The girls’ clubs have provided adolescent girls with a space to talk about particular issues of interest and concern, such as puberty change, reproductive health, trafficking, and health issues. Boys and parents are also being sensitised about different issues related to girls, helping to create a better understanding of girls’ issues and contributing to a more gender equal society.
10 Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) have been established, helping to ease a wide range of distressing effects the children are suffering from due to displacement. The activities build on children’s natural and evolving coping capacities and support them in their cognitive development, helping them establish a sense of security and build self-esteem. Having supervised, safe environments for their children during the day also enables parents and caregivers to pursue essential chores, such as collecting food and water, rebuilding homes, or seeking new income generating activities.
In emergencies such as this, children face particular risks. The project therefore aims to strengthen child protection mechanisms within the community, as well as within schools. It supports capacity-building of teachers and camp management committees in the areas of child rights and child protection. The active participation of children and adolescents, through children and youth clubs, is encouraged. Awareness-raising on girls' right to education and life skills education for girls aims to address the root causes of drop-out of girls.