About Phaung Daw Oo Integrated Monastic Education School (PDO)
Our school was founded in 1993 by The Venerable U Nayaka and his brother, The Venerable U Zawtika, with the goal of providing free, quality education to children who otherwise would not be able to afford school. The school was built on the Burmese monastic tradition of providing young persons with literacy skills and a moral foundation to equip them to contribute to the betterment of society. PDO was also greatly influenced by the early 20th century Christian missionary schools that were prevalent throughout Myanmar until 1962. From its humble beginnings in an open air setting with 17 volunteer teachers, the school has grown to more than 8,000 pupils and 400 teachers and staff.
PDO's educational programs range from kindergarten through high school. Children are admitted regardless of sex, race, religion, or family income. Our students are unable to attend government schools for a variety of reasons. Members of our student body include impoverished children, orphans, ethnic minorities, abused, neglected, and abandoned children. PDO does not charge tuition; education is free for all of our students. In addition, we provide free room and board to those students from communities far from the school's location.
PDO’s curriculum is accredited by Myanmar’s Ministry of Education and our students take regular state exams in accordance with national standards for grades K-10.
Primary school students are taught using the Child Centered Approach (CCA). Meanwhile, middle and high schools students are taught using the Reading, Writing, and Critical Thinking (RWCT) method. Due to the large student body, classes are taught in two separate shifts: the morning shift runs from 8:00 am and ends at 12:00 pm and the afternoon shift starts at 12:30 and ends at 4:00 pm. Extra classes and tutoring are offered by teachers whenever necessary.
Classes are mostly taught using the Burmese language (many students speak other languages at home), however, students in the Fast Track, Bridging, Pre-College, and New Teacher Training programs are taught in English. Students in these programs also attend gender, citizenship, and other courses.
One of the most difficult problems at PDO has been to educate children from poor rural areas where there are no schools or where situations like civil war or the aftermath of natural disasters make it difficult for children to receive an education. In addition to ethnic Bamars, we serve a number of ethnic minorities such as the Wa, Lahu, Shan, Palaung, Kachin, Kayin, Akhar and Pa-o. Like our other students, these students come to PDO in order to receive an education. However, our ethnic minority students face greater challenges due to language barriers and differing academic levels. For example, a 16 year-old ethnic minority might only have attended school through Grade 2. Moreover, many children, especially in our Non-Formal Education program, may have psychometric and socialization issues due to the trauma they have faced thus far in their young lives.
PDO is also home to several hundred young Buddhist novice monks and nuns. It is common in Myanmar for children and teenagers to spend time in the novitiate in order to learn more about Buddhist customs and religious tenets. Some of these novices later enter religious life full time and do so with the strong secular academic training received as part of the educational curriculum that we offer to all our students. While PDO does not include religious subjects in its curriculum, our Principal teaches some students the ancient Pali language after school. In addition, many primary students attend optional Sunday lessons at our Dhamma School, in which a basic understanding of Buddhism as a way to live peacefully and to how to avoid bad behavior is taught.
Vocational Training and Other Student Services
In addition to traditional academic programs, PDO provides vocational training programs (carpentry, tailoring, computer, horticulture, catering). Basic hygiene is also taught to all students.
PDO operates a full-time student health clinic that provides medical care to more than 150 students per day. The horticulture program raises food, which is used to feed students in the school’s dining program. Special on-campus accommodations care are provided for the approximately 400 orphans who call PDO home. In addition, there are dormitories for approximately 700 boys and 400 girls, plus staff accommodation.
Parents are encouraged to play an active part in their child’s education to the greatest extent possible. PDO’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) helps parents follow the progress of the students and promotes a good relationship between teachers and parents and provides a basis at home for encouraging learning and discovery.
PDO’s Involvement in Educational Initiatives
PDO actively participates in national programs to promote the accessibility to and quality of education. PDO is a founding member of the Monastic Development Education Group and works with the Pestalozzi Children Foundation (PCF) and Centre of Promoting for Monastic Education Schools (CPME).