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Putting the miles into distance learning

Catholic volunteer says it’s worth the trip to teach kids

Putting the miles into distance learning
Charles Kyaw Zin Hteik teaching English to youths in the education center of the monastery reporter, Yangon

February 22, 2011

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A young Catholic volunteer in Myanmar is reaching out a long way to help poor Buddhist children learn English. Charles Kyaw Zin Hteik from the Our Lady of Fatima parish, in Yangon says he conducts an English class every Sunday. However, he’s not teaching local children. Instead, Kyaw Zin Hteik travels to teach 30 young people in classes held at Wailuwon Monastery in Kyauktan, a village in Bago division about 80 kilometers from Yangon. A Buddhist monk runs an education center at the monastery for orphans and poor children. Apart from English they can also attend computer and religious development courses there. "I let the youths practise with each other in groups as they seem reluctant to talk out loud and be seen to be making mistakes," Kyaw Zin Hteik said. This way they will gain more confidence speaking English and will be able to pass on their knowledge to future generations. “I can speak English and I wanted to share with these kids what I know. It’s a long way to come, but it makes me happy to educate young people irrespective of their religion or race,” said Kyaw Zin Hteik who started teaching in October last year. The 24-year-old said he decided to begin teaching after seeing the children had a real thirst for knowledge during a visit to the monastery with friends. “We welcome all people here regardless of religion. I would really like to thank Charles for all his efforts,” said Venerable Pa Nyaw Bartha, the principal of Wailuwon monastery’s education center. Zin Mar Thet, a Buddhist youth who has graduated in chemistry and works as a volunteer teacher in computing at the center, said she likes the way Kyaw Zin Hteik teaches. “He not only teaches us English but also lets us share our knowledge to strengthen our abilities and enable us to communicate better,” said Zin Mar. “We really do appreciate Charles’ kindness and love, for he travels a long way from Yangon to teach us in the village,” said another young Buddhist, Hsu Wai Tint. The education center first opened in 1990 with 80 children and received recognition from the authorities in 2004. The number of students has grown rapidly since then and temporary shelters are used because of a lack of space. The center teaches children from Grade 1 to 5 and also helps support brighter students through further education elsewhere until they graduate. MY13374.1642

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