This CSR initiative is in response to the urgent need for the education of poor village children, many of whom became orphans or had single parents who were unable to take care of them as they left town to work.
To make matters worse, the long-time civil strife, the civil war which followed the 2021 military coup d’état and the ensuing pandemic halted or paralysed the country’s entire education system.
Although schools have started resuming classes, most families must deal with the high cost of living and rampant inflation and are unable to support their children’s education. As a result, many children drop out of school, many young people join fraud syndicates, and tens of thousands of youths cannot extricate themselves from the bondage of drugs.
In the current situation, running temporary cram tuition schools is the only way to give poor children the opportunity to receive an education and ignite their hope for the future.
The Seven Grace Education Centre is one of six tuition centres in Northeastern Myanmar which seek to meet this need.
The centre currently has five teachers and 90 students with classes held in temporary sheds. The sheds have reached their maximum capacity and cannot accept any more students. However, there are many more children still waiting outside the centre because their parents are too poor to provide them proper education elsewhere.
As such, a team of Singapore professionals, including M&E, structural, electrical engineers, contractors and architects (including Aw), has partnered the Myanmar Christian Nationals’ Evangelism Commission (MCNEC) to construct a four-storey building so that more children can benefit from the centre’s programmes.
In March this year, MCNEC signed a contract with local contractors to start work on the building. The groundbreaking ceremony was held in April 2023. The project is expected to be completed by September next year.
So far, the foundation has been completed and work has begun on the columns of the ground floor.
When completed, the building, which stands on a site of about 325 sqm, will house a multi-purpose hall, 10 classrooms, a teachers’ room, a meeting room, a music room, an AV room, a kitchen, a dining room and some living quarters.
The building will have a large metal pitch roof which will allow for better natural ventilation and drain off rain during the rainy season. The foundation has been designed for the flexibility of building an extra floor should the need arise in future.
Aw said, “Due to the double-digit inflation in the country, prices for almost all imported construction materials have doubled to tripled in prices, meaning the budget for construction has increased significantly. Nevertheless, through the support of local and overseas brothers and sisters, we are determined to see the project through to completion.”