Learning to care for the environment

Building futures at St John's, Hakha

In its third year of operation, St John's Primary School in Hakha, Myanmar is continuing to grow and build on its early achievements.

Nestled on a hill in Hakha, remote Myanmar, St John's Primary School, is making quality education a reality for more than 250 children. Thanks to your support and the tireless efforts of project partners on the ground, the school's second building is now complete, meaning the school can expand to offer classes all the way through to grade six. Catholic Mission's financial commitment to this project has now come to an end, but with a strong foundation, the right infrastructure and resources, and the vision and dedication of local leaders - Fr Lucas Tha Ling Sum and school principal Theresa Htua Swe - St John's is well placed to continue building futures for the children of Hakha.

Second building

The second building, complete, with the school's three buses to the right that allows children to get to and from school safely.

Impact in numbers

  1. Brand new buildings, equipped with resources, enabling safe, welcoming learning environment
  2. Children participating in lessons, happy coming to school and growing daily in their knowledge, skills and confidence
  3. Qualified teachers providing interactive, engaging and holistic education, and pastorally supporting the wellbeing of children
  4. Family members of students, teachers and staff, benefiting indirectly from the life-changing experience of education and meaningful employment

Children classroom 3

Students in one of the newly built classrooms on the ground floor of the second building.

How your donation has made a difference

A school is much more than just its buildings; however, without adequate infrastructure, it is very hard to provide a good education. Having the right building for the purpose, designed by local people who know their needs best and equipped for both the present and future demands is crucial. The community at Hakha is very happy and thankful to now have such a great facility, and this would not have been possible without your generous gifts and prayerful support.

Thanks to your support, 257 children are in school (from pre-kindergarten to grade four), learning and thriving, as they are encouraged to grow to their full potential. Six of these students have a disability, and if it were not for St John’s, they would not be able to go to school and would not only miss out on a formal education, but also the friendships and opportunities that come with it.

This impact will only continue to grow, as future generations are formed through the quality education they receive at St John’s.

Numeracy lesson k 1

Using the Montessori method, children are supported to learn at their own pace and in their own way.

Under the leadership of school principal Theresa Htua Swe and Father Lucas Tha Ling Sum, the teachers and staff at St John’s Primary School have created a warm, child friendly environment, where every student is made to feel welcome and given an education that meets their individual needs.

Because of Catholic Mission’s strong relationship with the school and its connections to other projects in the region (such as the Pyinya Sanyae Institute of Education (PSIE) project and the Episcopal Commission for Education (ECE) project), teachers at St John’s are all qualified to a high standard and supported to participate in ongoing training and development.

Children classroom k 1

Children learn through play in the inviting, colourful kindergarten space.

The school now has a dedicated kitchen and dining room, built in a separate building on the school grounds. This has freed up space for the school to use as additional classrooms in the next academic year, to help facilitate its growth. To help reduce running costs and generate income to support its sustainability, the school has set up a bakery in the kitchen. Eventually, the school intends to use the bakery to enrich the students' education with the introduction of basic food technology classes.

Children enjoy daily nutritious meals, with the onsite organic garden thriving and the bakery producing food for the students since the end of September 2019. Every week, the bakery produces six kilograms of cake and biscuits for the students, which costs the school roughly AU$85. Previously the school was purchasing the same amount of baked goods for the students at a cost of around AU$110. Thanks to the bakery, St John’s is saving the equivalent of AU$25 every week.

The school also plans to start selling baked goods to the broader community in the next academic year (June 2020), the income from which will go back into its running costs. Catholic Mission will work with St John’s to help develop their business plan for the selling of baked goods between now and next year.

A further element of the school’s sustainability plan, pig farming, is progressing well, with the school now having 32 pigs. It plans to sell its stock in the 2019 Christmas season for an estimated profit of AU$2,000 and purchase more pigs in the new year to grow its operations.

One of St John's great successes has been its ability to build strong rapport with parents and engage positively with the community. In August 2019, 155 parents had the chance to meet and speak with Bishop of Hakha, Bishop Lucius, Fr Lucas and Principal Theresa Htua Swe.

During this parent meeting, St John’s also successfully formed the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), which will support the school in making decisions, fundraising and helping to build the school community. This will play an important role in ensuring the school's sustainability.

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A student from St John's.

Opportunities for the future

Catholic Mission's financial commitment to St John's might be finalised, but its relationship will continue on, as we journey in mission with the school through its coming achievements and challenges.

In the immediate future, St John’s will continue to add a grade to its school each year until it becomes a complete primary school, which in Myanmar goes through to grade six.

This academic year (2019-2020), St John’s took enrolments for the fourth grade. These students will progress their education at the school into grade five for the academic year 2020-2021 and then grade six the following year (2021-2022). At this point, St John’s will be officially offering the whole primary education.

The focus for St John's in the next few years will also be on continuing to build its income streams. From December 2019, the school will be funding its running costs, including teachers’ wages, through saved funds and its income generating activities (school fees, bakery, piggery, laundry services and community fundraising). This is a huge accomplishment for the School and one that will help ensure St John's is able to offer quality education for many years to come.