Myanmar's Jesuit school awards first diplomas in education

As Myanmar was changing, Jesuits decided about four years ago to start teaching more than communicative English.

July 26 2014, 8:49 AM
Myanmar's Jesuit school awards first diplomas in education
A gathering in front of the Jesuit-run St Aloysius Gonzaga English Language Institute

The Jesuit-run St Aloysius Gonzaga English Language Institute (SAG) in Myanmar marked a milestone on July 5, with the granting its first diplomas in education to 22 students who successfully completed a three-year study program.

"It has taken SAG a long time to get to this point," school's director Father Paul Dass said adding that the Jesuit Myanmar Mission decided about four years ago that Jesuit education in SAG could be more than teaching communicative English.

“Our strong belief also drew strength from reading the signs of the times here within Myanmar, which on many fronts was moving very quickly forward; be it economically, socially or politically – and so, educationally as well,” said Father Dass. 

SAG began exploring the feasibility of this by offering of several academic subjects apart from English. Literature, psychology, social sciences, mathematics, world history and even philosophy were taught in English, within the construct of a wholly integrated curriculum.

“At the beginning of the program, we as teachers faced some difficulties because the students had different language levels" and their background knowledge of these subjects were poor "as they did not these at school,” said Ms Nang Kyi Tay, academic coordinator of the program.

The integrated program was given a considerable boost when the Jesuits signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) in the Philippines in November 2012.

The MoU created a framework in which ADDU, particularly its School of Education, supports and enables SAG to develop its own fulltime curriculum in the liberal arts and humanities, to be taught in English, and culminate in Professional Education certification.

The ADDU also agreed to grant its Diploma in Education to students who fulfilled the overall requirements of this curriculum, which was what was awarded on July 5, for the first time.

The graduating students received their diplomas from principal guest Bishop Basilio Athai of the Archdiocese of Taunggyi and Fr Mark Raper SJ, Major Superior of the Jesuits in Myanmar. 

Some 300 people including 50 guests, nine teachers from the State High School Number 10, past teachers of SAG, and local clergy and religious, together with about 250 students of both the Regular and Integrated Programs of SAG attended the formal ceremony.