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A school in Myanmar that leaves no child behind

When the day dawns, 13-year-old Bote Son is the first in her family to awake. She is up and about, getting ready for school.

Education has always been important to her, Bote Son (pictured above) says. “My greatest desire is to learn and to be educated,” she says.

The teen, who has a disability that makes it difficult for her to walk and use her hands, gets to school in a wheelchair. She started school for the first time two years ago when ChildFund Myanmar began running non-formal education classes for children from disadvantaged backgrounds in Yangon.

Over the past couple of years, Bote Son has learnt to read and write for the first time in her life. She is also learning maths, Burmese and English.

She is an enthusiastic student, says her teacher Thida. “Bote Son tries hard. She is the most active student in my class and she has never missed a day of school.”

Bote Son’s mother Kyi says she has always wanted her daughter to go to school, but the limited opportunities for children with disability in government-run schools in Myanmar has meant it has been impossible to enrol Bote Son into the formal education system. Private schools have been out of the question because she and her husband cannot afford to pay the fees. Kyi makes and sells brooms, while her husband is a taxi driver; their income is irregular and unreliable.

Thirteen-year-old Bote Son, who has a disability, has been able to get an education because of ChildFund’s non-formal classes in her community.

“I always wondered about Bote Son,” Kyi says. “My husband and I both struggle to earn a living, so we could not send her to a school for children with special needs. I felt we had not done enough for her. I felt guilty.

“Now, she can write the alphabets and read her name.

“I am very pleased to see her learning. I am relieved she can now get an education.”

Bote Son with her mother Kyi. “I am very pleased to see her learning,” Kyi says of her daughter.

Bote Son (front row, second from right) with her teacher Thida and classmates.

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