Partnership with Phayar Taung

Charterhouse Launches Partnership with Burmese Monastery School

Charterhouse has long believed in the importance of partnership and dialogue between schools of different kinds. Whether in Kensington or Kenya, young people have a great deal in common, as do the teachers and schools which educate them – and it is this ethos which sits behind Charterhouse’s partnerships in Surrey and beyond. Now, we are excited to launch a new relationship on the other side of the world – with the remarkable Phayar Taung Monastery and Youth Development Centre in Shan State, Myanmar.

From 20 to 25 January 2018, two Charterhouse teachers visited Myanmar to begin this exciting new partnership. Formerly known as Burma, Myanmar sits in South-East Asia, bordered by India, China, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Laos. The country is predominantly Buddhist, and the Phayar Taung Monastery is a Theravada Buddhist community including eight monks, thirty teachers, and nearly 1,200 children from the banks of Inle Lake. The monks began providing education for orphans in the 1980s; whilst there are still orphans being educated there, the excellent teaching has attracted young people from far and wide to the school, which – like Charterhouse – is fully boarding. The mission of the Youth Development Centre, which includes a government-funded school, is to provide education for young people from the poorest backgrounds. The centre is supported by the Inle Trust, and its founder Feroze Dada, with whom Charterhouse are working on this exciting project.

Annabel Hawkins (Assistant Head: Pastoral) and Ben Nicholls (Director of Social Responsibility) spent a busy three days at the Monastery and school, holding meetings with teachers and monks, talking to pupils, observing lessons, and eating and praying with the community. They also met with teachers from two nearby towns, to gain a wider perspective on the Burmese education system (very different from the UK!) and met in Yangon with the Director of the Samena Foundation, which supports the Monastery (and is run by an Old Carthusian). 

“Despite our own work as teachers, we weren’t quite sure what to expect from a school so far from our own, and in such a different religious and political climate,” commented Miss Hawkins. “We were amazed by the generosity of our hosts and the warmth of the pupils at Phayar Taung, and by how much we learnt from them in such a short space of time. From the moment our boat arrived at the monastery, we were made to feel immensely welcome. The highlights were probably playing football and singing with the pupils – who have a particular passion for Westlife!”

“Our discussions with the monks, teachers and children revealed a remarkable mutuality of ethos, aim and vision between their school and ours,” added Mr Nicholls. “True partnership means learning from each other: there are undoubtedly things that Charterhouse can learn from Phayar Taung, and hopefully vice versa.”

Over coming months, Charterhouse will be working with the Monastery, the Inle Trust and the Samena Foundation to develop further elements in the partnership, potentially to involve joint professional development for teachers from both schools, developing subject curricula and pedagogy, sharing resources, and facilitating pupil contact and visits in the future. For more information about this and Charterhouse’s wider partnership work, please e-mail bn@charterhouse.org.uk