Myanmar is a country of significant and rapid change. The county's transition to democracy after years of military rule has heightened expectations of political transformation and quality of life.
Myanmar remains one of the world’s least developed nations despite being a fertile country, rich in natural resources. The 2014 census found that 29% of people in rural areas – where 71% of the population resides - live below the poverty threshold, while in urban areas the poverty incidence is estimated at 15%. GDP per capita is $1203 and the country is ranked 148 out of 188 on the Human Development Index.
VSO's three-pronged strategy supports the transition to a more equitable, open and accountable society by:
- Improving education services
- Improving healthcare provision
- Promoting civil society and social accountability (especially engaging women’s voices)
Since 2012, we have been working with the government, local and international partners to ensure the most disadvantaged participate in development that benefits themselves.
We already have established a small country team, and have ongoing work in supporting reforms in pre-service teacher training, pre-service midwifery training, and the government initiatives in improving adolescent sexual health practice as well as offering support to a number of local civil society groups.
Although our programmes are in their infancy there are already many exciting opportunities for VSO to engage in Myanmar’s development.
We look forward to working with you.
If you are interested in volunteering please see our current opportunities. Volunteer in Myanmar
The education system in Myanmar faces major challenges - such as school access for children living in rural areas, children with disabilities and child migrants.
Other challenges include quality standards for teaching and school management – for example only one third of primary teachers in Myanmar have had any kind of formal teacher training.
We train the trainers of primary and secondary school teachers to help them deliver effective, inclusive education.- while also enhancing English language proficiency. We transfer planning, coordination and management skills to education staff.
- We've trained 1,600 Teacher Educators in integrated teaching methods and English proficiency. Benefiting 165,000 children.
- Supported 1,600 Monastic Schools to improve education management systems - improving education for 275,000 disadvantaged children
- Supported 12,447 kindergarten-aged children access child and disability friendly learning environments
- Trained 580 teachers on Inclusive Education and classroom practice
Maternal and newborn health
In Myanmar, 200 in every 100,000 women die in pregnancy and childbirth due to limited access to health services and personnel. Child mortality is also high, with infant mortality at 62 per 1000 live births.
Sexual and reproductive health is a taboo subject, making it difficult for young people to access accurate information.
We improve the technical skills of midwives, paediatric nurses and healthcare managers. We support government initiatives to improve adolescent sexual health services.
- We trained 9,774 midwives and other health professionals to strengthen maternal and new-born health systems
- We provided information to 2.3 million young people on Adolescent Youth and Sexual Reproductive and Health services
- Supported the treatment of 329 babies suffering from neonatal sepsis, jaundice, pretem and birth asphyxia
- We traned 1,450 midwives and 156 nurses to provide quality safe delivery and neonatal care and services
Myanmar was led by a military regime until 2010 which made it extremely challenging for civil society organizations to operate freely.
The recent democratic reforms means working to strengthen civil society organizations and promote social accountability now seems possible.
We support the development of civil society organizations to ensure access to justice at the grassroots level. We work on combatting gender-based violence and aim to raise the voice of women with policy makers.
Between 2015-2017 we:
- Trained 1,850 local partners' staff in gender-based Violence prevention and response
- Supported 1,987 (983 Male and 1,118 women) access psychosocial support
- Coached and mentored 150 Civil society organisations to engage with government to influence decisions
- Trained 364 community volunteers from 28 community organizations to support gender-based violence awareness at community level
- Trained 62 ethnic women and 2 women leaders in leadership and decision making
- Supported 130 gender-based violence survivors to access justice
- Supported 15 gender champions to lead gender and social inclusion campaigns.
Volunteering for Development programme
The Volunteering for Development programme, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) works to improve quality and access to health and education services as well as livelihood opportunities for the most poor and vulnerable.
The grant recognises VSO's extensive experience of putting volunteers in the right places to tackle poverty and inequality. Find out more:
What makes VSO different?
Volunteers are at the heart of what we do. Our programmes are delivered by energetic, passionate and skilled individuals who deliver sustainable solutions to tackle poverty. They collaborate with their host communities to find innovative, local solutions. They provide continuous training, coaching and mentoring to our partner organisations.
Evidence shows that results achieved through volunteering offer have a deeper and longer lasting impact and higher value for money.
Find out more about VSO's unique people-centred approach to make a lasting difference to poverty.
Since 2012, we have been working with government, local and international partners to ensure the most disadvantaged people in Myanmar participate in development that benefits them.
Our local implementing partners range from universities, to hospitals, to civil society organisations and include:
- Rural Indigenous Sustainable Education (RISE)
- Myanmar Mobile Education (myME)
- Eden Centre for Disabled Children
- Monastic Education Dev’t Group (MEDG)
- Save the Children
- Ministry of Education
- Interfaith Youth CBO
- Social Care Volunteer Group
- Ministry of Health
- Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Rehabilitation
Civil society partners
- Women Organization Network (WON)
- Plan Tee Eain
- Womne Federation For Peace
- Tai’aung Women Organization (TWO)
- Northern San State Women Organization Network (NSS-WON)
- My Justice Programme
- British Council
- Yangon Justice Centre
- Mawlamyang Justice Centre
- Mothers Union
- Karen Women Empowerment Group
- Kindness Women
- NGO Gender Group (NGOGG)
- Precious Stone
- FHI 360
Misogyny and the media: Tackling gender inequality in MyanmarMyanmar was shut off from the world for decades. Today, fledgling democracy is paving the way for campaigners – and VSO volunteers like Jane Stageman - to tackle inequality in this rapidly changing country.
5 minutes with... Alice Redfearn, English Language Trainer, Myanmar
"As a teacher I get a lot of respect here from my pupils, they are very polite, very eager to please. That’s quite a change from the UK."
Interested in volunteering in Myanmar?
Find out more and see volunteer roles available.
For more information about VSO Myanmar or to find out about becoming a partner please contact us at:
17B-2, Thar Yar Waddy Street (off Sayarsan Road), Bahan Township, Yangon, Myanmar
Telephone: +95(0)1 401601
¹ 2014 Myanmar Population & Housing Census. See also World Bank (2016) Growing Together: Reducing rural poverty in Myanmar
² World Bank, 2014
³ UNDP, 2015