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Impact stories

Providing social justice education for youth in Myanmar

The School for Shan State Nationalities Youth (SSSNY) was formed in 2001 with a vision to empower young people to take an active role in social change in Myanmar. The school offers social justice education and community leadership training.

Students sitting in a circle.
Credit: SSSNY Caption: SJEP students take part in a group activity.

The Social Justice Education Program (SJEP) is a 6 month intensive residential course designed to educate and empower Shan Youth to become community leaders and agents of change. The comprehensive curriculum includes human rights, the environment, gender equality, community development, computing, history, administration, communications, social justice, conflict resolution, peace-building and democracy and systems of government.

Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA has supported SSSNY since its foundation. Their partnership aims to empower young community leaders by enhancing their practical and academic skills. Following their training, the youth can return to their communities with the skills and confidence to promote community development, environment and social change initiatives in Shan State.

At age six, Charm Tong was forced to leave her home in Shan State to escape conflict. She settled in a refugee camp on the Thai-Burma border with her family. At 16, she began her work as a human rights activist. A year later, she was addressing the United Nations to raise the situation facing women in Shan State and the use of rape as a weapon of war in Myanmar. In 2005, she took her cause to the White House and today she is the head of SSSNY. Charm Tong is now tasked with empowering young people from all over Shan State to become advocates for social and political change through SJEP.

When asked what work she was most proud of Tong replied, "[…] supporting the implementation of continuous training for over 600 marginalised, conflict affected youth activists from various ethnic nationalities, sectors and regions in Shan State, in order to strengthen their capacity to actively promote a transition towards genuine peace."

Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program.

Last Updated: 14 February 2018
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