When and why
Started in 1999 and after 8 years of experiencing in working with local communities in central and Southern Shan State, Kaw Dai came to realize that without training young people in the communities to become leaders in their own, it is impossible to help improve their lives. With the aim of promoting and nurturing young people to become community workers, Kaw Dai started the Internship Program in 2007 with 13 students from surrounding communities in Kali and Kun Hing tonwhsip. But over the years of success, Kaw Dai has done well to gain trust from the people and communities across Shan State, and now not only students across Shan State come to join the program but also students from Kachin State, Mandalay division, Pegu division also come to the program. From 2007 to 2014, 347 students had trained and it has reached its 9th batch in 2015.
Kaw Dai had difficulties finding a place to start the program especially for the safety and welcome society. We were lucky and honored to have the former SSA No. (7), now became people militia in Southern Shan State to start the program. It was in Kali Township, about 6 to 7 hours’ drive to the east from Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State. It is in a small and quite village, surrounded by mountain range, stream and forest. We built the training program in the middle of the farm where all teachers and students stay and learn together, farm and cook together like a family.
What we teach and how we teach
The main aim of the program is to have committed community workers at the end of the program therefore syllabus and curriculum are designed to match with the expectation of the program. The core subject of the program is community organizing theories and practices and case studies of people power around the world. Which is why, students are brought to see and observe the community in order to understand the characteristic of the conflict, nature of conflict, and structure of oppression, and how the people cope up with the problems and impact of the long civil war in the areas. From what they see and what they learn, the students are encouraged to discuss and do analysis on what should be done to make the situation better.
Community workers are not just someone who graduated from the training and easily become community workers; they are someone who has strong commitment to community work and more importantly who love to see peace and justice in its own society. In order to help the students understand deeply about non-violence ways of building peace, it takes time, needs exposure and case samples from other society. Because most of young people in Shan State today grown up from/in the conflict areas where violence ways are using mostly to solve problems.
For this, students are trained to be patient, to value team work, to know responsibilities, and to value its own identity. The students are divided into team to do farming, raising livestock, cooking, going to market, and organizing field trips. From managing small responsibilities together, students learn to manage things and learn to lead among themselves, learn to be patient to deal with problems in team, learn to solve problems among themselves. More importantly, they learn to be responsible for what they did which is the most difficult part of the program.
Program Coordinator and teachers
The Internship Program was run by Sai Phong Khong, the coordinator of the organization himself especially in teaching community organizing subject. Along with him are well-trained and highly graduated from university abroad teachers, to teach social sciences, English 4 skills and civic education. Students graduated from Intensive English Program, Yangon are recruited to assist in facilitating and teaching the subjects. They also assist in farm management, organizing field trip, tutoring slow learner students.
Just like other programs in Kaw Dai Organization, we have students from different parts of Shan State, Kachin State, Mandalay division, Pegu division and Sagaing Division. Students receive free education, health care, foods and accommodation till the 8th batch. But starting in 2015, we collect $160 from each student for the whole year.
The basic requirements to be accepted into the school are speak and read Shan in intermediate level, finished high school and have strong desire to serve community.
During the 8 months program, students are required to follow some rules in order to avoid unnecessary problems. The school is a free drug society and no drug and alcohol is allowed during the 8 months. Based on the request of the parents and case in the past, relationship is not allowed until they graduated.
The Internship English Program receives most of its funding from community and part of its funding come from (Euro Burma Office). The farm land, office space, building are mostly contributed by the community and the running costs are from EBO.
With the supports from the community and funders, the Internship English Program has successfully reached its 9th batch ; which mean nine years since we started the program.
1st batch – 23 students
2nd batch – 13 students
3rd batch – 33 students
4th batch – 44 students
5th batch – 44 students
6th batch – 53 students
7th batch – 52 students
8th batch – 67 students
9th batch – 48 students
Kaw Dai Internship Program