The Myanmar Young Leaders Programme (MYLP) for 2016
The purpose of this programme is to build a network of highly skilled leaders who will contribute to the peaceful development of Myanmar and establish strong links with New Zealand. They will gain English language proficiency and the knowledge and skills to enable them to build the capacity and effectiveness of their sponsoring organisations. Participants in the programme will be expected to work collectively within the group and to promote co-operation between their organisations in building democracy in Myanmar.
The MYL Programme
The programme runs from 22nd February until 12th August 2016 and is based at Victoria University of Wellington which is one of New Zealand’s leading universities. More information about the University can be obtained on www.vuw.ac.nz.
The programme will consist of a 25 week full-time course and visits to relevant organisations. The main objectives are to provide English language proficiency, knowledge of development, economics, international relations, peace and conflict studies, basic research and proposal writing skills, leadership skills, and experience of the principles and practice of democracy.
The purpose is to assist participants to contribute to policy-making and practice, and to build greater co-operation and cohesion between Myanmar non-government organisations. There is also a focus on increasing young women’s confidence and skills and developing more awareness among men of the importance of promoting women’s rights and their political participation.
The English Language Institute of Victoria University is responsible for delivering the programme (http://www.victoria.ac.nz/lals/eli/). A teacher from this Institute works closely with participants, teaching the orientation and assisting with the tailored course, and meeting regularly during the English Proficiency Programme (EPP). The current teacher, who has been involved since the beginning of the programme, is Karen Falconer.
The 2016 MYLP will consist of:
Orientation runs from 22nd February until 2nd March. The aims of the orientation are to familiarise participants with the university campus and resources available to help with learning. There are opportunities for participants to get to know each other and begin working together. There is also flexibility to include activities or events of particular interest or relevance to you that may happen in Wellington during this time. The orientation finishes with a session on the purpose, expectations and assessment on the English Proficiency Programme, so that students can feel prepared for the transition into this programme.
English Proficiency Programme (EPP)
The thirteen week English language course runs from 3rd March until 3rd June. This teaches English language skills in contexts such as Learning a Language, Recreation & Leisure, Waste Management, Migrants, Crime and Punishment. The main aim of the EPP is to prepare students for whom English is a second language for tertiary study in an English language context. To do this, the course helps students to develop their ability to use English to understand and talk or write about complex ideas, and to understand the difference between studying in their own country and studying in New Zealand.
Classes are organised by English language level, so participants learn with students from other nationalities at a level that meets language learning needs and provides enough challenge to keep the motivation to improve.
The EPP is a full time course, which means there are scheduled classes from 9am to 1pm daily, with one afternoon for regular progress testing, which usually includes vocabulary and either reading or writing. During the other afternoons students are expected to use facilities at the university to improve English and study skills. There may also be requirements to attend classes which are introduced early from the tailored programme such as learning online searching and basic research skills. We will also be interviewing each participant to learn about what special interests you might have so we can organise individual community visits for the tailored course.
The ten week tailored course runs from 7th June until 12th August with a focus on the topics of development studies, economics, governance, international relations, democracy and human rights. During this time there will be visits with government, social partner, community, and other organisations to provide first-hand experience relating to the above topics and additional specific skills or learning related to individual interests. This course draws on a wide range of contributors (academic staff, governmental and community organisations, unions, and individuals) who have the expertise and enthusiasm to develop the knowledge and skills required for participants’ current work and beyond.
There is a combination of classes and visits to meet the specific outcomes of the programme listed below. Because of the learning partnership between participants, UnionAID and the English Language Institute, there is the flexibility to adapt to particular needs and interests as well as providing content which includes international relations, democratic governance, human rights and development. Opportunities to further improve English language and communication skills are also included. Participants will also research a particular interest and develop this into a written proposal for a field work project back home. These proposals can be submitted to UnionAID for funding so the field work can be implemented upon return to Myanmar as a practical extension of the programme.
As well as making marked advances in English language proficiency, an analysis of feedback surveys after their return to Myanmar has found that alumni have:
- taken on higher levels of responsibility
- often been promoted within their organisations
- demonstrated leadership
- improved report and proposal writing skills
- taken up mentoring and leadership roles
- understood more about democratic processes and development
- and generally shared their new knowledge and skills
Annual conferences for all programme alumni are held in Myanmar towards the end of each year to ensure ongoing support, and further learning and networking opportunities.