The IHE system originated in a time of crisis and relied on a curriculum that reflected this. Over time, the IHE
has grown and changed into a bona fide education system that no longer needs to rely on crisis materials and
methods, however the curriculum and mechanisms for change do not seem to have changed along with it.
Accreditation/acceptance of student credentials and teacher experience is difficult to argue for in systems that
reflect a continued state of crisis. IHE on the other hand, has a reasonable argument in saying that they are
actually a developed education system, but to do so they need to move from crisis to development.
The following recommendations reflect the desire to proactively move IHE schools forward despite
uncertainties, allowing both the schools and the students to take an active role in determining their own futures
and the future of Karen State in Burma. These recommendations take into account the changing political and
educational contexts both in the camps and inside Burma. The scope of these recommendations is limited to
four subjects: math, English, social studies, and science. Other subjects including education, Karen, Burmese,
Thai, and computers were not specifically reviewed; however teachers who teach these subjects were
interviewed and contributed to the general findings.
The current recommendations are based on one three-to-four-day visit to each of the IHE schools in Thailand,
an informal curriculum and document review, and interviews with KRCEE-DHE staff and partner
organizations. These recommendations focus on both current teaching and learning practices and future
transition needs and can be categorized into two groups: recommendations 1, 2, 3and 4 speak to improving
present teaching and learning by moving from a system designed for crisis management to a system designed
for community development. Recommendations 4, 5 and 6 address the transition of the IHE from a camp-based
system to a system that could be based in Burma or Thailand.
1. Modify the overall student assessment procedures and percentages to include a wider variety of
measures (e.g. benchmark activities, projects, tests) over a wider variety of time periods (e.g. one
semester, one year, two years).
2. Implement a handover system to mitigate the effects of a high teacher turnover rate.
3. Facilitate curriculum modification procedures that take into account the changing political situation
4. Implement a career path option for teachers vis-à-vis a system of ongoing teacher trainings and other
criteria that lead to teacher distinctions (e.g. teacher to senior teacher) to facilitate teacher retention,
5. Facilitate an ongoing series of conferences during which the IHE Board of Directors, in consultation
with teachers, administrators, and students, examine the section of the IHE vision statement “…produce
graduates with commitment to serve their community…” and specifically identify the membership
criteria for “their community” (e.g. ethnicity, geography, common goal, etc.) and the knowledge, skills,
and attitudes students may need to work with a potentially diverse groups of people.
6. Increase access to and use of technology by teachers and students.
As the number of IHE schools continues to grow and IHE begins to make inroads into Burma, there is a need to
establish a curricular framework for teaching and learning to assure students, teachers, and other stakeholders a
quality education. This framework can also be used during discussions between organizations and governing
bodies regarding topics such as repatriation, accreditation, and teacher certification recognition. Data collection
methods included interviews and focus groups with teachers, administrators, students, and stakeholders in IHE
schools, document reviews, and participant observations. In addition to creating the framework, this research
also highlighted some ways IHE can move forward in the uncertain climate regarding the future of the camps
taking into account the changing situation in Burma.
Prior to implementing any of these recommendations, an Academic Coordinator for DHE needs to be on board.
For these recommendations to have any possibility of success it is incumbent on DHE and KRCEE management
to ensure this position has a comprehensive job description and is not left vacant for lengthy periods of time.
Background & Findings
The KRCEE organizational vision promotes the use of education for peace and justice and the IHE vision1
seeks to foster a spirit of community service in specific skill areas. When discussing the knowledge, skills, and
attitudes needed for community service, for peace building and for obtaining justice, teachers and students
consistently noted the need to work both within and across communities and levels of government, thus
highlighting the need for “communication across differences”. During the faculty meetings held at the schools,
teachers identified the following skills as essential for students to competently serve their community2 and to
promote peace and justice: 1. communicating in languages other than Karen, 2. Communicating with people of
different ethnic groups, particularly those with whom there might be a disagreement, and 3. communicating
with people in positions of authority, including Burmese and Karen political authorities, subject experts (e.g.
health-focused NGOs, civil engineers, etc.), and Thai military personnel. These skills have also been identified
by UNESCO as critical skills for working within the ASEAN context3.
IHE schools aim to provide students with an education that will allow them to take on community leadership
roles. To be a leader, individuals must have experiences working and communicating with a variety of people
in different situations. Many students indicated they were interested in leadership and indirect service roles
such as working in a CBO office, being a manager/politician in a village, and being a diaspora leader. Students
1KRCEE vision: “To build a true, lastingpeaceand justiceby producinggraduates who are critical and creativethinkers,competent
leaders,and good citizens who areproud of their identity.”
IHE vision: “IHE aims to bringforth graduates with commitments to serve their community in specific skill areas.”
2 See recommendation number five for further discussion on “community”.
3 Accessed 12 June 2014 from http://www.unescobkk.org/education/news/article/asean-integration-lets-not-forget-the-
also indicated they were interested in direct service roles such as health professionals or teachers, with a
primary focus on service and a secondary focus on leadership. The fewest number of students indicated they
were interested in non-service work, such as non-CBO office work or mechanic. Students and teachers agreed
that all indirect and direct service roles require general knowledge, communication skills, and a positive attitude
Leaders need general knowledge to make decisions about daily matters and to know when there is a need to
request help from and evaluate the advice of an expert. When requesting assistance from an expert, it is
incumbent upon the leader to think critically and be willing to question the advice of the expert, as no
knowledge and no expertise is “value neutral”. To apply a value judgment to an experts’ work, leaders need to
have a well-developed sense of identity, of curiosity and an open mind that is willing to understand situations
from multiple perspectives. Critical thinking is a key component of understanding a variety of stances, and
leaders need to have a habit of asking themselves and others higher-level questions such as “Why?” and
“How?”. Leaders need communication skills including relevant languages, confidence when speaking to
“Others”, and the skills to negotiate situations fairly and diplomatically. These communication skills can be
introduced in classrooms but must be practiced in order for the student to become proficient. Higher level
questions combine with general knowledge and diplomacy skills will allow graduates to analyze a situation
from the viewpoint of the many different parties involved, to articulate this analysis to others, and to make
Prior to implementing any of these recommendations, an Academic Coordinator for DHE needs to be on board.
For these recommendations to have any possibility of success it is incumbent on DHE and KRCEE management
to ensure this position has a comprehensive job description and is not left vacant for lengthy periods of time.
1. Modify the overall assessment procedures and percentages to include a wider variety of measures (e.g.
benchmark activities, projects, tests) over a wider variety of time periods (e.g. one semester, one year, two
Presently, student assessment is geared toward two high-stakes tests consisting of mostly lower-level (i.e.
knowledge and understanding) questions and academic/theoretical content. Students at the IHE schools
however express a desire for education that will facilitate their ability to take on active leadership roles in the
community. Leadership roles require a higher level of understanding, such as application, analysis, evaluation,
and synthesis, than is currently assessed at IHE schools. These higher-level thinking skills require different
types of assessments than is currently being used by some teachers, and it may be necessary to modify the
current assessment systems and procedures. Changing the form and content of the assessments to fit the desired
results may enhance their usefulness to both students and teachers and the ability of teachers to more-accurately
assess student competencies.
Leadership skills require not only general knowledge but also the ability to think practically, to make decisions,
to seek the opinions of others, and to research alternatives. Practicing and assessing these skills are key
elements to facilitating proficiency. For example, rarely is a leader asked to construct a sentence in the past
perfect; rather leaders are required to communicate effectively, using the past perfect as necessary. For this
reason, taking into account on-going practice and improvement in addition to exams may allow teachers to
better-assess students’ capabilities than do the mid-term and final exams alone. Additionally, both teachers and
students cite confidence as a key characteristic they hope to gain from their IHE education. Formative
assessments with on-going practice and feedback, in addition to the two exams per semester are likely to
enhance a student’s confidence in a particular skill.
As such, one recommendation to consider is to include performance standards and benchmark activities in
student assessment strategies. Performance standards should reflect the knowledge, skills, and attitudes
required for graduation from an IHE school and are assessed by benchmark activities. Benchmark activities are
designed to assess subsets of the skills required by the standards. Students complete them throughout the
semester, allowing the teacher and the student to regularly assess progress toward specified knowledge, skills,
and attitudes. These ongoing assessments provide a vehicle for teachers to give feedback to students, thus
serving a dual purpose of benchmarking a student’s progress and being useful learning tools. Both the
standards and the benchmark activities should be created by teachers with the help of a technical advisor using
the IHE-required curriculum and informed by the CESR and NNER findings and the Burmese MOE.
Including standards and benchmark activities into the student assessment scheme will require a re-distribution
of percentage points assigned to mid-term exams, currently weighted at 30%, and final exams, currently
weighted at 50% of the total score. A recommendation would to reduce the percentages of the mid-term exam
to 20% and the final exam to 30% and to count the benchmark activities as 30% of the total score. The current
assignment of 20% to the “assessment score4” would remain the same. The addition of benchmark activities to
the student assessment scheme would require a more-robust system for recording student marks throughout the
semester. The principals may want to issue grade books or assessment recording pages, which can be submitted
to DHE at the end of each academic year. These grade books, along with the final exams, create a body of
evidence for each student, documenting her or his progress throughout the IHE program.
Skills are gained over a period of time; assigning these skills to one semester may be detrimental to students
who have not had enough time to master the skills and/or who may stop practicing them once they have
received academic credit. To address this, it may be worth exploring the feasibility for adding skills practice
requirements to graduation criteria that are separate from coursework requirements. This could take the form of
Supplementary Standards that are completed at the student’s pace throughout her career at IHE. All must be
completed prior to graduation. An example of supplementary English standards would be to require students to
complete 4 movie review (listening skills), 4 book /webpage reports (reading skills), 4 journal entries (writing
skills) and 4 interviews/presentations in English (speaking skills) in addition to all coursework before they are
qualified to graduate. Other supplementary standards could be less subject-specific such as: organize one event
for a group of people (leadership). This, too, must be completed prior to graduation. The teachers responsible
for collecting and marking the Supplementary Standards could be the guardian teachers, the registrar, or other
personnel as individual school staffing levels permit.
While this form of assessment procedures will not require more teaching time, it will require more teacher
administrative time and materials. To implement this, it will be necessary to develop the assessment criteria
(i.e. standards and benchmark activities), calculate the number of hours needed for record keeping, feedback,
and additional planning and add these hours in to the FTE teaching positions currently funded at each school.
4 The assessmentscoreis a category currently used that includes homework, quizzes, behavior,and attendance.
A copy of the standards and benchmark activities should be kept at each school. The standards and benchmarks
are part of the assessment system thus are required to be completed by all teachers. They can only be officially
modified by IHE with recommendations from the senior teachers (see below) and DHE.
It is likely that the benchmark activities and their accompanying teaching materials and/or list of expendables
(e.g. games, clinometers, litmus paper etc.) will result in an increased need for proper teaching materials storage
in some camps. Plastic tubs, binders, plastic sleeves, and locked cabinets may be needed.
2. Mitigate the negative effects of a high teacher turnover rate by implementing handover procedures at
Implementing handover procedures for teachers and administrators at each school could help to alleviate the
negative impacts of a high rate of teacher turn over as the knowledge gained from teaching experiences in the
camp will be shared with incoming faculty members. Each school could be given a binder with the standards
and benchmark activities; all teachers will be able to use the binder to determine the standards and benchmark
activities they need to teach. The benchmark activities include a section for “lead up lessons”, which is a list of
recommended lessons to be taught prior to the benchmark assessment. In keeping with current expectations for
lesson plan development, experienced teachers would continue to be responsible for submitting lesson plans to
the principals. They would, however, be requested to write them using a standardized lesson plan template.
The lesson plan template could include objectives of the lesson, materials needed, contacts for
organizations/people outside of the school that are willing to work with students on a short-term basis (e.g.
guest speakers, organizations willing to be interviewed by students, etc.) as well as the lesson plan itself.
Throughout the year, these lesson plans would be added to the lead up lesson plans in the binders. New
teachers will be able to draw from the lesson plans developed by experienced teachers thus enhancing
institutional memory and passing the “lessons learned” from experience on to the new teachers. The lesson
plans are recommended for new teachers, however they are not required. Along with the written lesson plan,
the teachers would be encouraged to store teaching materials for use in the coming years and note where it is
stored on the lesson plan. It is likely that additional page protectors and at least one thumb drive on which to
keep downloaded film clips, electronic copies of the lesson plans, etc. per subject will need to be purchased.
3. Facilitate curriculum modification procedures, teacher training, and student assessment that take into
account the changing political situation inside Burma.
Curriculum modification in preparation for transition(s) will require IHE teachers and school administrators to
have an understanding of the educational and political situations inside and outside of the camp. To facilitate
the curriculum modifications in the changing contexts, KRCEE-DHE and/or IHE may consider hiring a
technical advisor who is well-versed in the current camp curriculum and knowledgeable about the CESR-
MOE/NNER process and forthcoming recommendations. This person would work specifically with IHE
schools and administration on transition-related issues including standards and curriculum modification, teacher
training, and student assessment.
Curriculum modification. The technical advisor’s role in curriculum modification would be to present the
CESR-MOE/NNER curriculum recommendations to the teachers and administrators and work with them to
understand how or if these recommendations might be adapted, taken up and implemented by the IHE schools.
To work with the upper divisions, the advisor would also need to be aware of the ASEAN higher education
“harmonization policies” regarding topics such as credit transfer, quality assurance procedures etc. particularly
if the IHE schools decide not to follow some of the Burmese MOE recommendations.
This research has resulted in a first draft of IHE standards and benchmarks that are based solely on the
Curriculum Project and IHE modules. As such, it is necessary to facilitate curriculum modification reflective of
IHE culture and the changing political and educational situations. Senior teachers (see below) would be asked
to comment on and suggest modifications to the standards and benchmark activities throughout the academic
year. Over time, the standards and benchmark activities will be replaced by those developed by IHE senior
teachers working with a technical advisor. Together, the senior teachers and the advisor would ensure that the
IHE standards and benchmark activities either reflect the NNER and/or the CESR-MOE recommendations or
that IHE has outlined its reason for not doing so to the proper educational authorities. Such a system would be
useful in facilitating the evolution of the curriculum from one based on modules and textbooks produced by a
variety of organizations to one that reflects the insights and values of the IHE organization and has the
possibility of being accredited should IHE move inside Burma.
From my experiences with teachers and administrators in camp, it would be advisable to find an IHE
teacher/administrator to be the technical advisor. The technical advisor could work shoulder-to-shoulder with
an someone, perhaps a consultant, who is familiar with standards, benchmarks, and other international concepts
and terminology. It is important that the local technical advisor be the face of the initiative and the main contact
for all teachers and administrators. The consultant’s role should be limited in scope to assisting the technical
advisor and limited in time to one academic year. It is recommended that the local technical advisor be a
regular IHE employee. It will be necessary to develop a comprehensive job description for this position to
facilitate hiring of the first technical advisor and to facilitate re-hiring should the original technical advisor leave
IHE for any reason. IHE program management (whether KED, KRCEE-DHE, or other) would need to be held
accountable for finding a replacement in a reasonable amount of time.
To suggest modifications to the standards and benchmark activities will require teachers to have increased
access to technology and teaching materials, increased communication among teachers at all IHE schools, and
an increased attentiveness to the CESR-MOE/NNER recommendations. Teachers will need access to
pedagogic and subject-specific materials and content other than the current curriculum. This will require
teachers to have more access to the internet and printing facilities while in camp to research teaching strategies
and alternative lesson plans. It will also require IHE program managers to create a library of text books and
other teaching materials, particularly ones that are likely to be accepted by the education system inside Burma.
In keeping with the idea of skills practice, another recommendation is for teachers to work together across
disciplines to increase the amount of practice and the context in which students practice various skills. For
example, science and English teachers can work together so that the conclusion of science experiments are
written during English class, focusing on sequencing words (e.g. second, then, finally…), interpreting graphs
via text (e.g. “as the time increases, so does the distance”). When developing lead up lessons, benchmark
activities, and standards, Senior teachers could keep this in mind and recommend activities that are suitable for
cross-disciplinary teaching. Senior teachers could also preview different text books and recommend those with
an appropriate emphasis on skills.
Administrators at each school could be responsible for keeping an updated copy of the IHE management
approved standards, benchmark activities, and lead up lesson plans for each subject. Each school will submit its
binder with the additional lesson plans and suggested modifications to the standards and benchmark activities to
IHE management during the May teacher training each year. It will be necessary to ensure the advisor and all
senior teachers have time to meet and work together, discuss the previous year’s lesson plans and compile
modifications, share activities and ideas, and reflect on the standards and objectives. This meeting may take
place in conjunction with training, policy meetings, or other gatherings, but a minimum of two days must be set
aside for senior teachers to work together with the advisor on curriculum revision. The output from these
annual meetings will be an updated version of the standards and benchmark activities based on the lesson plans
submitted teachers in each camp. Once approved, the updated versions will replace the previous year’s
standards and benchmark activities. IHE management will need to keep archival copies for reference.
Modules can be updated in much the same way as the standards and benchmark activities. One
module/electronic copy per school per course can be designated as the updates version. When a teacher finds
something that is unclear or needs to be updated, she can make a note in this book; she can comment on notes
from other teachers. During the curriculum modification meeting in May, a subcommittee of the subject
teachers can work to compile the modifications and ideas into one textbook. This textbook can then be
compared with the standards and benchmarks to determine relevancy of the modifications to both. Copies of
the recommendations will be kept at the DHE office and updated each May until there is a change in
modules/new edition, at which point the recommendations will be considered prior to deciding to retain the
textbook or search for a new one. See Appendix A for suggestions for the 2014-2015 school year.
Teacher training. The advisor would also work with IHE management to differentiate the teacher trainings.
Currently, DHE works with outside organizations to facilitate training for junior teachers on the “craft” of
teaching--that is the particular skills and knowledge needed to manage a classroom and to teach content (e.g.
classroom management, subject methods training, basic teaching critical thinking skills training). The advisor
could be responsible for facilitating access to training for senior teachers on the “art” of teaching, which could
include topics such as advanced critical thinking skills, student advocacy, power and politics in the curriculum,
and theories of student assessment. The senior teacher trainings would take into account the CESR-MOE
recommendations regarding teacher education, including the Teacher Competency Framework to be developed
in CESR-Phase 2. Both junior and senior teacher trainings would take place during the May teacher training
workshop, with follow up visits from the advisor to each of the camps to work with both junior and senior
teachers on the knowledge and skills presented during the trainings.
Student assessment. With regards to student assessment, the findings of this research project concur with the
findings of the CESR Consolidated Findings report in that teachers need more training in writing higher-level
exams. IHE management and the advisor would facilitate these trainings and work with teachers to enhance
their own critical thinking and their ability to write questions that assess students’ critical thinking. As
mentioned above, the advisor would travel to each of the camps and work with teachers to apply these skills
and/or understand the barriers that teachers face to writing higher-level exam questions.
4. Implement a career path option for teachers vis-à-vis a system of ongoing teacher trainings and other
criteria that would lead to teacher distinctions (e.g. teacher to Senior teacher) to facilitate teacher
The high rate of teacher turnover in all camps is problematic. The handover procedures mentioned above
address the immediate consequences of high turnover; however they do not address the cause of turnover.
Teachers leave the profession for many reasons, including low wages, low community respect, and a lack of a
sense of professionalism5.
To address some of the causes of teacher turnover, IHE could consider creating a cadre of distinguished
teachers (here called Senior teachers) who would form the foundation of the schools. These teachers would
meet criteria such as: currently practicing teachers, multiple years of experience; successfully completed a total
of (six) months of training, and would be characterized by their peers as committed to education. Joining this
cadre of Senior teachers could then be promoted to all beginning teachers and to pre-service teachers as a career
path. IHE would need to develop specific criteria for distinction that would be flexible yet stringent. IHE
would need to determine who recommends teachers for distinction and admission to the cadre of Senior
teachers and what committee makes the final decision.
One example of what membership in this cadre could look like is the following: IHE could distinguish the
senior teachers by title, as these teachers could be called Senior teacher or some other title indicating
experienced, wise, and knowledgeable professional as the title “teacher” seems to have lost much of its former
allure. Senior teachers could be honored in the community during World Teacher Day, honored in the schools
with pictures/certificates and recognition befitting their position, and be honored by IHE management with
special colored hoods to be worn during graduation and other ceremonies. In addition to community and
professional respect, there could be an acknowledgement that Senior teachers have multiple years of experience
and are the foundations of the schools as they hold the institutional knowledge that is desperately needed but
often under appreciated. This cadre of teachers would take a leading role in the evolution of the curriculum as
outlined in the modification and handover procedures above.
The Senior teachers would continue to receive on-going trainings; however the content would be differentiated
from that of the junior teachers. The senior teachers would receive training that was aimed at the “art” of
teaching (see above). Ideally, the program for distinguished teachers would eventually be partnered with an
inter/nationally accredited teacher-training program. In this case, senior teachers would be offered English
readiness classes and training in lieu of other trainings should this be necessary.
Senior teachers at each school would be asked to provide mentorship and regular reviews of teachers at their
schools who had indicated their desire to become professional teachers and join the cadre. These reviews would
be confidential, taking the form of conversations between the two teachers involved, with signatures from both
certifying that the reviews were done. This allows for more candid conversation between teachers and mitigates
the possibility of a potentially-divisive power differential among the teachers. It is important to create and
maintain a positive working environment and camaraderie among all teachers, and this can be facilitated by
honest, non-threatening conversations.
Senior teachers are important to the schools and to IHE as an institution, have a proven commitment to
education including to new teachers and students, and accept the extra responsibility they will be asked to
shoulder vis-à-vis the ongoing curriculum review and mentoring responsibilities. As such, they are entitled to a
salary increase that raises them above the pay grade of non-career-path teachers. A system designed to address
5 Johnson, K. (2007). Teacher Needs Survey in Karenni Camps. White paper. Jesuit Refugee Services.
education in a crisis situation can justify one salary for all teachers, however an education system that is
preparing to transfer back to Burma and working toward receiving accreditation for its teachers and students
must be able to show the evolution not only of the official curriculum over time but also the increased skill
levels of the senior teachers if it is to be considered for accreditation. This is also in keeping with the CESR
Consolidated Report findings recommendations.
After recruiting the initial Senior teachers who already meet the criteria, the cadre could be developed by
continuing to offer yearly training in May and by initiating a mentor system. The yearly training topics would
continue to be set by IHE board of directors and IHE managment, keeping in mind the professional
requirements of Karen state and the CESR-MOE/NNER recommendations and the requests. Teachers interested
in qualifying for the cadre would need to complete extra assignments during or after the training. These
assignments would build off of the training topics and ask the teachers to reflect on how they will incorporate
the training topics into their teaching practice. These assignments would be reviewed by the IHE Academic
Coordinator and/or the training facilitator. A number (TBD) of successfully completed assignments will be
required for a PTMJC graduate to be considered for admission to the cadre. Teachers who are not graduates of
PTMJC will be required to complete more assignments.
To implement this, a budget would need to be set aside for a meeting that would allow IHE and school
administrators and Senior teachers to discuss the possibility of implementing such a program. If the program
were agreed on, there would need to be subsequent meetings to determine the criteria for distinction, the title
given to the teachers, the amount of wage increase, and other logistics. Colored graduation hoods would need
to be purchased. More importantly than finances though, is the absolute necessity of complete buy-in from the
IHE, DHE, all school administrators, and most teachers, and the majority of the students and other community
members. Prior to any financial investment in the project per se, a feasibility study that includes teacher,
administrator, and community input is recommended.
There is a documented and anecdotal shortage of personnel trained in curriculum design, assessment theory,
child psychology, and other necessary fields necessary to develop an education system. Providing scholarships
to IHE graduates and teachers to attend inter/national education programs focused on the skills listed above plus
others to be identified will enable the IHE program to become a sustainable program. The skills and knowledge
involved in these school-related fields are far more complex than a short-term, in-house/western volunteer
program can provide.
In a crisis situation, teachers can be trained in-house. However, to move toward development, it is essential that
some classroom teachers in the system receive training at international education programs. These teachers will
form the backbone of the system, ensuring practices recommended by IHE administration, Burmese MOE
administration, and international education “experts” are relevant and appropriate for students of IHE.
5. Facilitate an series of conferences during which the IHE Board of Directors, in consultation with
teachers, administrators, and students, examine the section of the IHE vision statement “…produce
graduates with commitment to serve their community…” to specifically identify the membership criteria for
“their community” and the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that students may need in order to work with a
potentially diverse groups of people. To increase their effectiveness, it is recommended that these
conferences have concrete deliverables and result in explicit policy recommendations/initiatives.
When asked to define “community”, the majority of teachers and students defined it first in terms of proximity
and/or origin (e.g. “people I live close to” and “my home village”), secondly in terms of ethnicity (e.g. “we
must help our own ethnicity before helping others, even if our own people live farther away”), and a minority of
respondents defined community in terms of a shared goal (e.g. “NGOs are part of a community”).
The IHE vision specifically calls on students to serve their communities in specific skill areas. To do this
requires a firm articulation of IHE’s definition of “community” and their stance on the use of Karen, Burmese,
and English languages in the classroom and on the campuses. IHE board of directors will need to gather
together and discuss the future of IHE inside Burma. They will need to specifically address their relationship
with KRCEE and how Karen identity and Burmese unity fit into IHE’s future, taking into account the
overwhelming response from teachers and students that Burmese is the most important language for their
students to know and be able to work in to promote peace and justice. IHE will also need to discuss the goal of
international “recommended pedagogical practices” to decide which practices, or iterations thereof, they feel
will move students in a direction of being global citizens, citizens of Burma, and effective members of an ethnic
group. This dialogue has the potential to evoke strong feelings that may be in opposition to each other; it may
require an outside facilitator who is familiar with the conflict along the border and inside Burma and with
international education policy recommendations and their consequences.
Specifically, IHE needs to articulate what it wants its relationship with the Burmese Ministry of Higher
Education, the KED, and with potential international partners to look like. This articulation should be
representative of the teachers and students in camp in addition to the IHE management. There needs to be a
commitment of resources, including both time and funding, to hold these multi-day conferences at regular
intervals, especially during the transition. To increase their effectiveness, these conferences could have
concrete deliverables and result in explicit policy recommendations/initiatives and plans for implementation
beginning in 2015 at the latest.
If transition from the camps to inside Myanmar and to working inside the national education system is desired,
IHE must begin building relationships with the Myanmar ministries in charge of the skill areas IHE wishes to
teach in its upper divisions and with the Myanmar ministry in charge of higher education. IHE may also begin
to build relationships with international centers of excellence (e.g. Wisconsin Center for Educational Research;
Oxford Center for Refugee Studies, etc.) in specific skills areas that could potentially lead to partnerships. IHE
will need to research requirements, including content, language, and assessment, and then negotiate with the
appropriate actors to modify these requirements to suit IHE’s stated goals and purposes.
6. Increase the use of technology by students and teachers.
Multiple teachers recommended including current events into their curriculum. Teacher training/guidance on
how to use current events broadcast from the radio (e.g. BBC and VOA) and various other news sources in class
may add additional relevance to the curriculum. Teachers at schools with access to the internet would benefit
from using the internet regularly to search for mainstream, alternative, and independent news sources in
addition to the radio. This can be incorporated into the English listening sections (“Learn English with the
BBC”) and Burmese language classes (“BBC in Burmese”). Students may also benefit from listening to a
variety of perspectives on one subject in social studies. Science classes may benefit from news media as well
by downloading NPR’s “Science Friday” and other programs.
To add current events to the curriculum, a budget could be set aside for all students and teachers to read the
news on their own time (e.g. at the internet shop or during night study). A Supplementary Standard that
requires students to write four written reports/summaries before graduation could be implemented to increase
student accountability, and teachers who use the internet will be expected to produce lesson plans, teaching
materials, or other materials based on their internet findings that are relevant to teaching and learning. As the
use of the internet and email will likely continue in the future, it will allow teachers and students who have not
had the opportunity to develop internet skills to practice doing so. Requiring each student to spend a minimum
of (30) minutes per semester reading the news on line would help develop not only the students’ awareness of
the outside world but will also provide positive models for the community. In addition, every student, teacher,
and administrator should be encouraged to have an email address, as these are widely used to submit and
receive notification of applications for further study and for scholarships, among other things.
To continue to modify and update the curriculum, teachers need access to outside materials and alternative
lesson plans. Given this, it is important that teachers have increased access to content and pedagogy sites on the
internet as well as teacher chat rooms and other professional communities. IHE may choose to limit increased
access to the internet to teachers who have at least (2) years of service or to those who have entered the
Professional/Senior Teacher program.
Incorporating technology into the curriculum requires funding for the ongoing purchase of services and
materials. In schools with access to internet, agreements will need to be made between the “host” of the
internet service and the school to allow all students and teachers increased access. As many schools do not have
access to the internet, equal-opportunity partnerships between the schools and the internet shops in camp can be
created. These relationships would include a negotiated price and time allowance for teacher and student use of
the internet during the semester. Forming and maintaining these relationships would be the responsibility of the
principals, with backup support from IHE management as necessary. Forming relationships between IHE
schools and their communities is helpful to both the school and the community, and these relationships should
be seen as having value above the amount exchanged for goods and services. Each school needs to engage with
all internet providers in camp, regardless of the owner’s ethnicity. This will serve as a model of tolerance for
mutual benefit, of leadership among diverse populations, and is an important step towards building or
enhancing the bridge between the school and the community.
Teacher training is needed to introduce the concept of technology in the classroom and to ensure teachers have
access to and are effectively using various technologies in the classroom. This may be accompanied by the
development of teacher training module(s) that cover the use of technology in a variety of subjects. Training in
the use of technology in the classroom can be incorporated into ongoing teacher training sessions.
Many schools will also need more computers, monitors, power strips, and other computer-related materials. For
example, one IHE school has six computers and no access to internet for its 140 students and over 20 staff.
This is not conducive to facilitating proficiency or even use of computers, which are currently and will
undoubtedly remain important tools of economics, politics, and culture. An effective ratio of computers to
students needs to be determined, along with an extension of the existing maintenance plan. There are several
good examples of computer textbooks that have already been developed by IHE teachers (e.g. see KNJC). With
the authors’ permissions, these should be shared with all camps. Other technologies such as a radio, a
recording device, speakers and supply of batteries/recharger are already available in most schools, as these are
used to teach listening skills in General English. Most schools also have access to a television although not all
have a DVD player. An increased budget for generator fuel may also be needed in some camps. To bring audio
and/or visual internet content into the classroom, schools will need to have more than one memory stick
available for teacher use and will need access to a projector.
Current Budget Implications
The above recommendations are synergistic thus it is difficult to place a value on any of the individual parts.
The purpose of this section is an attempt to delineate the inputs and their fiscal implications to enable both the
funders and the program managers to understand how these recommendations may affect their finances. This
section does not include any reduction of current expenditures; it looks only at the recommendations above. I
will not attempt to put a value on the potential outcomes of these recommendations, such as increased teacher
professionalism and satisfaction, increased student learning, and possible integration of IHE schools into
Recommendation 1: Modify the overall student assessment procedures and percentages to include a wider
variety of measures (e.g. benchmark activities, projects, tests) over a wider variety of time periods (e.g. one
semester, one year, two years).
Purchase appropriate movies for each school
Purchase notebooks for each teacher to use as a grade book
Possibly increased budget for generator fuel at some schools
More administration time allotted to record Supplementary Standards.
Recommendation 2: Implement a handover system to mitigate the effects of a high teacher turnover rate.
Purchase binders, page protectors and printouts for each camp
Purchase storage containers and cabinets as needed
Purchase water-soluble markers for each classroom (to write on page protectors)
Recommendation 3: Facilitate curriculum modification procedures that take into account the changing political
situation inside Burma.
Salary and travel costs for a technical advisor
Salary and travel costs for a consultant (one time expenditure)
Increase budget for teacher internet use
Increase budget for purchasing resources recommended by CESR-MOE/NNER
IHE management staff time and resources to print standards and benchmarks for each camp
Senior teacher meeting in May
Recommendation 4: Implement a career path option for teachers vis-à-vis a system of ongoing teacher trainings
and other criteria that lead to teacher distinctions (e.g. teacher to Senior teacher) to facilitate teacher retention,
Increase Senior teacher salary
Possible increase in the cost of teacher trainings and materials
Meetings to develop Senior teacher criteria
Senior teacher accoutrements (hoods, certificates, pictures…)
Provide scholarships for graduates to attend international education programs focused on curriculum
development, assessment, child psychology, and other school-related topics.
Provide scholarships for current teachers to attend national/international teacher education programs
Recommendation 5: Facilitate an ongoing series of conferences during which the IHE Board of Directors, in
consultation with teachers, administrators, and students, examine the section of the IHE vision statement
“…produce graduates with commitment to serve their community…” and specifically identify the membership
criteria for “their community” (e.g. ethnicity, geography, common goal, etc.) and the knowledge, skills, and
attitudes students may need to work with a potentially diverse groups of people.
Series of IHE conferences
Possibly a budget to hire an outside facilitator
Recommendation 6: Increase access to and use of technology by teachers and students.
Increased number of computers in some camps
Purchase a projector for each camp that does not have access to one
Increased budget for student and teacher use of the internet in some camps
Increased budget for printing in some camps
Increased budget for fuel for the generator in some camps
Appendix A-Module and Process updates for 2014-2015
The curriculum is in transition, thus replacing books and/or making major changes prior to the series of IHE
Board of Directors conferences and the CESR results is ill advised. However, addressing the following
concerns will likely help facilitate current teaching and learning and help ease the transition process.
a. Time Management
i. The majority of teachers indicated they had trouble finishing the lesson content in 60
minutes, and many indicated they had difficulty finishing the module content in the
semester. Consider allowing schools to choose the length of their class periods (e.g. 2 x
1.5 hours per week vs. 3 x 1 hour per week) to allow more time for sustained work on
ii. Consider adding time between classes for the teachers and/or students to move from
room to room. Approx 3-5 minutes is taken from each class period for this, further
shortening the amount of actual teaching and learning time. If a credit hour is 1 hour,
each class needs to be in session for 60 minutes.
b. Student Assessment
i. Set exam questions to reflect skills and higher-order thinking (i.e. application, analysis,
and synthesis). Ensure teaching methods allow for student success at higher orders of
ii. Clarification needed: Teachers from various schools and subjects indicated that the final
exams reflected content they had agreed NOT to teach (e.g. Ch 6 was included in a SCIE
251 exam but prior to the beginning of the year, teachers had agreed not to teach Ch. 6.
This caused problems for the students of the teachers who complied with the agreement.)
iii. During transition, consider having exam questions be unique iterations of the benchmark
i. Consider replacing modules with higher-quality, colored copies/books. The lower-
quality black-and-white soft cover modules are perceived as “workbooks” (i.e. write the
answers in them) whereas students seem to engage with hardcover books differently.
ii. All modules need to include more “teacher notes”, i.e. extra content that is directly
related to the teaching content that will give teachers more in-depth understanding of
their subject and enable them to answer student questions about things directly related to
the topic but not covered in the book.
iii. Consider working to ensure that all schools are using the same edition of each module.
The early editions do not have a publication date, but as of 2006 the modules are dated.
Using the same edition of modules will give all students an equal opportunity to do well
on the mid-term and final exams.
iv. Ensure that all printed material (e.g. modules, academic handbook, etc.) have page
numbers for reference.
i. Reduce the breadth of content (consider removing calculus and loci, as teachers and
students indicated these were not useful after graduation)
ii. Add additional practice problems for all math classes.
iii. Review content sequences—131 and 132 (algebra-geometry relationships are out of
iv. MATH131 content level varies from grade 6 (decimals and fractions)-upper level high
school (quadratic equations-complex numbers). Consider having less variation in the
v. Increase focus on the connections between math and daily life
vi. Consider ensuring that all schools have an adequate number of protractors, rulers,
compasses, and other mathematical supplies (e.g. “math kits”-see Mae La Oon)
vii. Consider designing and implementing a storage system for purchased and teacher-made
viii. Consider ensuring all schools have an adequate supply of graph paper and a way to make
or project a grid onto the whiteboard or have a movable whiteboard with a permanent
i. In all of the IHE science books, the photocopy quality and formatting does two things to
actively hinder learning and interest in science. First, each science module has at least
one lesson that is unreadable due to poor quality photocopying. Additionally, the format
of the books hinders effective and efficient teaching as, for example, the page numbers
are either missing or illegible or the content is out of sequence. Second, the poor quality
of the copies sends two direct messages to students: 1. that science is neither as
important nor necessary as the other subjects, which all have better-quality copies. 2.
The IHE-produced materials are less-desirable than other materials.
ii. SCIE151 & 152: Either reduce the amount of content or increase the number of credits to
3 and allow more time for completion.
iii. Increase focus on thinking skills and decrease breadth of content by increasing the
amount of time devoted to teaching and using the scientific method. One way to do teach
the scientific method first, having students design and carry out experiments. Then teach
physics, which is a straightforward application of the basic elements of the scientific
method. Chemistry is also relatively straightforward application of the thinking skills
laid out in the basic scientific method and adds additional skills such as observation and
categorization. Biology relies more on the additional skills and less obviously on the
basic scientific method. For these reasons, consider teaching the book “backward”,
starting with physics, then chemistry, and end with biology.
iv. Consider designing and implementing a storage system at each school for teaching
v. Increase focus on the connections between science and daily life problem solving.
vi. Consider adding Earth science and a chapter on natural disaster preparedness to either
SCIE or to the Environment Issues module.
vii. Reduce chemistry content or provide student access to adequate lab facilities and
materials and teaching materials such as colored, laminated posters showing the periodic
table elements and various molecular bonding processes.
viii. Reduce content related to cells or provide student access to microscopes and colored,
laminated posters showing cell organelles and cellular processes including reproduction.
f. General English
i. Consider decreasing the breadth of content and increasing depth (i.e. amount of practice).
ii. Consider re-organizing the content within and between modules so later content builds
off of earlier content.
iii. Consider increasing focus on speaking and listening by requiring students to complete
English-language activities outside of English class
iv. Consider adding more grade-appropriate readings to ENGL classes and to the libraries
(e.g. ENGL-Standards-CommonCore-LangArts). See TJC for additional information on
using class sets of texts.
v. Clarification needed: All schools indicated they use various books (pronunciation being
a popular one) for ENGL61, Mod1-4 for ENGL131 and Mod 5-8 for ENGL132.
However, DHE indicated that Mod 1-4 was assigned to ENGL61, Mod 5-6 to ENGL131,
and Mod 7-8 to ENGL132.
g. Social Studies
i. Include current events
ii. Cultures are not static. Consider adding cultural growth and modification to the cultural
iii. SOCS132: Include more information in the Future of SEA chapter in the SEA textbook
(e.g. Role of media in SEA culture or Continuity and change of SEA over time-past
trends…) or replace this with qualitative research methods.
iv. If/when applying for accreditation, consider re-classifying “Environment Issues” as
“Environmental Science” to reduce political implications and to be in line with the
SEAMOE (Southeast Asian Ministry of Education) and ASEAN education initiatives.
This was easily the favorite module of both teachers and students; consider expanding
v. Clarification needed: The academic handbook (under “Class Load”) indicates the second
semester of SOCS is 2 credits. Mathematically and in practice it is 3 credits.