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This program uses interest from community loans to pay teachers’ salaries, and is both improving children’s education, and helping local businesses flourish in poverty-stricken Myanmar.
Teachers Mutual Bank, Queensland Teachers Mutual Bank and Victoria Teachers Mutual Bank are collaborating to support the project. The CUFA partnership offers a sustainable funding model designed to help peak the poverty cycle in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.
Burma’ Shan Region is one of the poorest areas in Asia, and many parents there are unable to afford to send their children to government-run schools.
While the local Buddhist network has set up schools in the temples, funding for teachers relies upon donations from a very poor community, with many teachers forced to seek employment elsewhere.
Instead of just giving funds to teachers, the CUFA-developed program is set up as a sustainable model that ensures the whole community benefits and the capital is not eroded.
The CUFA partnership funding model provides loan capital for 20 community credit unions that are run out of the monasteries. This increase in the loan pool is set to benefit 9,000 members—providing capital for loans so members can build a house or a business and afford health care. The extra returns generated are then used to help pay teachers’ salaries.
Corin Millais, Teachers Mutual Bank CSR Strategist, travelled to Myanmar last year with CUFA CEO, Peter Mason, on a fact-finding trip that helped establish the project.
“CUFA’s program faces huge challenges on the ground but is delivering real practical results by tackling poverty head on in Myanmar, which has endured 60 years of civil unrest”
“A school teacher’s salary of $50 to $70 a month is not enough to survive, so teachers end up having to sell textbooks, drive taxis, sell vegetables, even impose a furniture tax, to support themselves and their families. $45 a month is considered the poverty line,” explained Corin Millais.
“We’re giving a hand up, not a hand out—it’s delivering real results. This project not only looks at improving the provision of education, but also shows that supporting teachers helps boost Myanmar’s overall economy.”
The Myanmar Teachers Project supports and benefits 22 schools, 157 teachers and 5,495 school children. Teachers Mutual Bank said the monks and nuns they met in the Buddhist network on their trip were very committed to providing children with access to education.
Both monks and nuns have travelled to different villages to inform parents about the importance of getting a good education and have encouraged teachers to invite their students to enrol for the next year of school.
Mr. Millais is planning a second trip early in 2014 to review how the project is going, and to look at what more can be done to support the program.
Steve James, CEO of Teachers Mutual Bank, said: “As a mutual bank, we believe that profit has a purpose and the Myanmar Teachers Project is a great example of re-investing profit in an effective way."
“Teachers Mutual Bank is a strong supporter of the education community in Australia and we’re very proud to lend our help and support beyond our shores.”
Find out more about CUFA