Young, digital entrepreneurs in Myanmar

With support from the Kavli Trust, Zabai will develop a digital entrepreneurship teaching program for youth in Myanmar. "The support from the Kavil Trust enables us to develop a course that is highly sought-after in Myanmar," says Kyrre Ødegarden, Operational Director at Zabai.

Text: Hanne Eide Andersen and Zabai

Photo: Zabai

After decades under military rule, Myanmar still faces significant challenges in ensuring its stability and economic progress. As an example, the education system has changed little over the last fifty years, and thus the general level of knowledge and skills in the population has stagnated.

“Even though the majority of the population in Myanmar have basic reading, writing and math skills, they have not acquired the skillset that will be needed in years to come, and production is low,” says Kyrre Øygarden.

Unemployment and school dropouts

A high unemployment rate – especially among young people – a large number of school dropouts, and insufficient quality of education, are among the challenges Myanmar now faces.

“A digital course in entrepreneurship will be an important tool for increasing productivity in the country and may also help students feel mastery of a skill. The project will provide youth with the knowledge and competence to ensure a stable income,” Says Kyrre Øygarden.

“This will be the first project that’s fully operated by local employees in Yangon. We have started the planning, and we’re planning a big launch in the third quarter of the year.”

Cooperating with organisations

Zabai’s main goal is to offer the course through non-governmental organisations in Myanmar. Many of the NGOs already offer vocational training of different kinds.

Zabai are now working towards establishing contact with several organisations. Every organisation they have spoken with stress the increasing importance of sufficient equipment and a focus on entrepreneurship in vocational training.

“Our goal is to make these types of courses the preferred form of entrepreneurship education for all the organisations offering vocational edcuation (TVET) in Myanmar,” says Kyrre Øygarden.

Video and newspaper formats

The course they are developing is based on an educational program created by Marit Linnebo Olderheim, called “How to make money”. This course consists of a series of short videos, combined with newspaper-format textbook material. Olderheim’s course is written with youth in Gambia in mind.

“The work that lies behind this material is very thorough, and we believe it deserves a wider audience. This is excellent content, and it is well suited to be distributed online as an e-learning course. This enables people to get an education no matter where they live, what gender they are, or their social standing,” says Kyrre Øygarden.

E-learning is becoming increasingly important

Øygarden points out that e-learning and video-based learning are now well-established ways of transmitting knowledge in industrial countries. Technological development is now making it easier for developing countries and poor communities to also be able to make use of e-learning as a way of learning.

“We have a fundamental belief that e-learning will be increasingly important in reaching the UN’s Sustainable development goals for education. We’re looking forward to contributing to this development through training in entrepreneurship,” says Kyrre Øygarden.

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