St Aloysius Gonzaga Institute
Located in central Myanmar, St Aloysius Gonzaga (SAG) Institute is unifying communities and fostering opportunities through education that bridges ethnicity, faith and generations.
Myanmar has been enveloped in the shadows of war, civil unrest, deep-rooted ethnic tension, oppression and poverty for decades. Even though the country has moved to a democratic government since early this decade, the long period of oppression left a legacy: entrenched, widespread poverty; displacement of Indigenous people; and under-resourced healthcare and education. This legacy and ongoing conflicts have left the country’s youth adrift with many lacking employable skills. For over 10 years, the Jesuits have accompanied Myanmar’s youth to navigate paths beyond the crossroads; opening up the doors to opportunities, transforming their futures and reaching out to enable others to do the same. With support from our Jesuit Mission family, the Jesuits in Myanmar run two well-established higher education institutes – Campion Institute for English Language in Yangon, and St Aloysius Gonzaga Institute of Higher Studies (SAG) in Taunggyi. And, in partnership with the Archdiocese of Yangon, they are at the early stages of opening a new Myanmar Leadership Institute, which will form confident and critical-thinking leaders. SAG embraces students across many of the country’s ethnically diverse states, including Kayah and Karen. More than 600 students are being enabled to study English, humanities and social science at SAG; empowering the country’s future leaders. Many students are supported with scholarships, and those from other States are provided living support (food and accommodation). In partnership with international universities and with recognition from Myanmar education authorities, this integrated program offers graduates internationally-recognised qualifications. Exemplifying Ignatian values, students in the integrated program are provided with opportunities to serve in neighbouring communities. And in the third year of studies, students develop a deeper service partnership by teaching English once a week to the eager and active children who live in local Monastic communities. At SAG, other English Language programs are offered for younger students, aged 8-24 years during the week and in weekends.
Students at SAG teach English once a week to eager children who live in local Monastic communities.
SAG is located in central Myanmar, and embraces students across many of the country’s ethnically diverse states. There are around 200 students in the three-year integrated program, which has English as the medium and offers full diploma programs in the Liberal Arts - humanities and social science. SAG has forged partnerships with a number of universities across Asia, and teachers and future leaders are being trained. Graduates are armed with the knowledge, skills and confidence to be competent leaders in their community. And they are formed with the self-esteem, compassion, conscience and cross-cultural understanding and experience that will empower them to transform their community’s future. Younger students, aged 8-14 years, gain learning support and English Language tuition through a weekend program and summer school. Looking to the future, the institution has many building plans in the works to expand capacity and bring together more young people to learn and plan for their futures with an education firmly based in social justice, responsibility and a sense of connection with community.
“The determination of the young people of Myanmar to build their country is inspiring, and I see it as an opportunity."
Paul, from Kachin State in Myanmar, is one example an inspiring young person your support has helped. At just 25 years old, Paul is determined to create transformational change for the future of his country. Like a lot of Myanmar, Kachin State is rich in natural resources (jade and teak) and has a large youth population. However, Kachin State exemplifies the complex history and ethnic tensions lived across Myanmar with ongoing civil conflict. After a 16 year cease fire, Kachin has been in violent conflict since 2011. “In Kachin State we have a lot of orphans. They come from a lot of different cities ... We need so many teachers to support their education. Because of the civil war. They’re fighting each other. The refugees are more …,” explains Paul. In his third and final year of study at the Jesuit-run Saint Aloysius Gonzaga Institute, Paul wants to become a teacher so he can help children in his home State to access quality education and create opportunities for full and free lives. Being over 500km from home, Paul is boarding at one of the hostels supported by Jesuit Mission. Paul notes that he has grown so much in the teaching and learning style as SAG offers a full inquisitive learning model and group work that intentionally requires collaboration across ethnicities, language and faith groups. This is quite a change from the rote-learning model that all students were brought up with. "I really like the SAG community because they give many things. For example, learning about education and doing some social work … we can learn a lot from this school. Before coming here, I had never presented in front of a class."
Paul from Kachin State is a student at SAG.
"Thank you for supporting us. Especially in our SAG school. I heard from Brother you’re supporting us for food and school. Thank you so much."