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At the beginning of this year, new buildings and a stadium donated by the Chinese government were put into use at No. 14 High School in downtown Naypyidaw, capital of Myanmar.
On November 14, 2014, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited the school during his visit to Myanmar to attend the East Asia leaders’ meetings. The premier urged its students to study hard and pass on the traditional friendship between the two countries. To support Myanmar’s educational development and help the country train necessary personnel, the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar collaborated with the government in Naypyidaw to launch the “China-Myanmar Friendship Schools” program in 2016. So far, 10 schools have been built under the program, benefiting thousands of local students. The high school in Naypyidaw was the fifth school to benefit from the program. It is estimated that by the end of 2017, more than 20 such schools will have been completed.
In May, most Myanmar schools close for the summer holiday. However, No. 14 High School was packed with teachers from various schools in Yangon, attending a training session.
“Our students love sports,” declares Daw Htay Yu, who has worked at the high school since 2011. “The new stadium donated by China inspires them to exercise.” She is very proud that the school won the 2016 sepak takraw (kick volleyball) championship in Naypyidaw.
Daw Htay Yu explains that although a computer, a desk and a playground could seem insignificant, they inspire students from poverty-stricken places in Myanmar to broaden their vision.
In addition to donating new school buildings and the stadium, China also offers opportunities for graduates to study in China. In July 2015, a group of 12 teachers and students from No. 14 High School, including its principal, attended a summer camp organized by the China-Myanmar Friendship Association in Beijing. They studied the Chinese language from a Chinese teacher and were speaking Chinese to each other by the time the camp ended. They could express thanks to their Chinese teacher in her native tongue.
One 11th-grade Myanmar student at the summer camp said he loved the Great Wall. After scaling it, he shouted in the Chinese he had just learned, “We’re heroes!” A seventh-grader declared that his dream was to study at Peking University in China, for which he would work hard. The Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, giant pandas at the Beijing Zoo and Chinese courses in international schools all impressed the students from Myanmar during their stay in Beijing.
The Chinese Embassy in Myanmar founded the China-Myanmar Friendship Scholarship Fund to help excellent students from poverty-stricken areas of Myanmar afford education and even study in China. Upon demand from Myanmar, China is set to expand its government scholarship program for Myanmar students to provide even greater intellectual support for Myanmar’s economic development.
Myo Thein Gyi, Myanmar’s education minister, pointed out that talent is crucial for a country’s development and that the government of Myanmar is working hard to improve education and upgrade schools and other educational facilities. He noted that Myanmar is grateful to China for the help it has offered to the country’s education sector and that the Ministry of Education of Myanmar will strengthen cooperation with the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar to build more China-Myanmar Friendship Schools and benefit more students.