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HAFLS welcomes guests from Myanmar - Thursday 24th January

HAFLS was honoured to host special guests from the Department of Alternative Education in Myanmar and VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas), who visited us in a bid to learn more about our county’s approach to community learning, as part of a wider trip to learn about adult education in the UK.

Following years of military rule, Myanmar is rapidly experiencing significant change as it transitions to become a democracy with heightened expectations of quality of life.

Myanmar remains one of the world’s least developed nations despite being a fertile country, rich in natural resources. The 2014 census found that 29% of people in rural areas live below the poverty threshold, while in urban areas the poverty incidence is estimated at 15%. The annual budget allocated to education by the government is low; only about 1.2% is spent per year on education. Subsequently education benefits mainly those who can afford to pay for it. Schooling is compulsory until the end of elementary school, probably about 9 years old, but many drop out of school earlier as they are sent off to work.

 Arriving at County Hall, ready to learn more about HAFLS, were Dr Zaw Win (Acting Director General), Dr Win Pe (Director of Policy, Planning and Management), Dr Win Win Kyaing (Director of Literacy Education) and Dr Li Li Myint (Director of Quality Assurance, Accreditation, Monitoring and Evaluation).    

The visitors from Myanmar were accompanied by Clare Crocker, Ben Williams and Gwen Harris from VSO (https://www.vsointernational.org/) who are supporting Myanmar’s transition to a more equitable, open and accountable society in a number of ways, including improving education services. Since 2012, VSO has been working with the government, local and international partners to ensure the most disadvantaged participate in development that benefits them.

Our guests were met by Chantal Lommel (Head of HAFLS) and Philippa Morton (Strategy and Innovations Manager), who introduced HAFLS and gave an overview of how the service runs.

The complexities of the HAFLS service were then discussed further, including protocols and best practice with regards to the procurement of community learning, project models, quality monitoring, partnership building, contract/partnership management and project management. The visitors were able to ask questions and consider how the principles presented by HAFLS could potentially be incorporated into their vision for the future of Myanmar’s adult education.

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(Chantal and Philippa present the workings of HAFLS)

Following a brief break for lunch, the visitors were taken to a children’s centre in Waltham Cross, where HAFLS run some of their courses allowing learners to take advantage of the crèche facilities at the centre.

Here, the visitors were able to observe a mixed-levels English literacy lesson in progress. When asked, the learners revealed their diverse backgrounds. With ethnicities ranging from Algerian, to Iraqi, Russian to Nigerian, it was heartening to see the learners in their work groups, planning a day out in London, using leaflets and other materials that the tutors had acquired.

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(Our visitors pictured with the class tutors at the Waltham Cross children centre)

Following the conclusion of the lesson, the tutors, Gill and Maria, answered questions from our Myanmar guests, including queries on the learning records and course structures.

The day concluded with a visit to the Waltham Cross Community hub. Here, our guests firstly met with HAFLS Health & Wellbeing and Family Learning tutor, Dionne Phillips, who gave a presentation on HAFLS Health and Wellbeing provision which aims to engage adults with the most barriers to learning and employment. Then, representatives from some of HAFLS’ valued partners met with our Myanmar guests and discussed how the HAFLS partnership works for them. The partners who agreed to share their perspective about subcontracting and partnership arrangements were: East Herts and Broxbourne CVS, Herts Mind Network, Oaklands College and SPS Training Limited.

Our visitors appeared to have found the insight into all that HAFLS offers very useful and inspiring. With a first-hand experience of a lesson in progress and a discussion with our valued partners, we could not have been more proud of all that HAFLS stands for and hope that, in time, lessons learnt during their trip to the UK can help in bringing together the community in Myanmar to develop a love of lifelong learning.

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(Our guests, pictured with partners at our Waltham Cross community hub)

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