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Supporting policy development and education practices in Myanmar

By ucypnde, on 13 November 2017

Ministry of Education officials in Nay Pyi Taw with UCL’s Prof Marie Lall and Jonathan Dale after the workshop

Ministry of Education officials in Nay Pyi Taw with UCL’s Prof Marie Lall and Jonathan Dale after the workshop

This past summer, Professor Marie Lall, UCL’s Pro-Vice-Provost for South Asia, travelled to Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, with Jonathan Dale from UCL Institute of Education’s London Leadership Centre.

In Yangon they delivered a two-day workshop on school leadership to 90 head teachers from the state, monastic, ethnic and private sectors. A few academic colleagues from Yangon and Mandalay University, as well as some teacher trainers from teacher education colleges, also attended. The Myanmar partner ‘Smile Education’, a local NGO, arranged for participants to come from across the country including some remote and conflict-affected areas.

In Nay Pyi Taw Professor Lall and Mr Dale delivered a one-day workshop on policy development to 18 Ministry of Education (MoE) officials. All were senior civil servants, most holding the post of director general of their departments. After the workshop, they were asked to do an interactive briefing with government MPs sitting on the education select committees of the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament.

Professor Lall said: “Myanmar is in a reform phase and there is a great need for capacity building at government level. I have worked with different stakeholders across the board for over a decade. However, I have never worked directly with the MoE till now and it’s unusual to have access to the heads of all departments of one ministry. The event was a resounding success.”

Since the country opened up in 2012, it has been awash with aid agencies and universities who offer help and capacity building. However, UCL’s advantage is that Professor Lall has worked in the country since 2004/5 and therefore has a reasonably good understanding of the needs that arise out of the reform process within the field of education. “UCL’s unique position can be different in that we meet actual needs without trying to impose programmes that have little relevance to the complicated local context,” added Prof Lall.

As a consequence of this activity, Professor Lall and Mr Dale recently won a new £150,000 British Council grant focused on ‘Supporting the Transformation of Higher Education in Myanmar’.

These efforts are part of UCL’s growing engagement with Myanmar that aims to build capacity across the public sector as the country continues its reform process.

If you would like to learn more about UCL’s work in Myanmar, please contact Professor Lall at m.lall@ucl.ac.uk.

Ask GEO: Rachel Corcoran, Programme Manager

By Sophie Vinter, on 22 September 2016

Rachel Corcoran, Programme ManagerRachel is GEO’s Programme Manager. We asked her to tell us more about her role and the recently launched Global Engagement Funds.

What is your role in GEO?

UCL’s Global Engagement Strategy launched in May last year – it’s an ambitious strategy which sets out a number of objectives: from ramping up the university’s collaborations with institutions abroad, to increasing student mobility and raising UCL’s global profile, to name a few.

As with any strategy, it’s all well and good deciding what you want to achieve, but the more difficult part is in the delivery. In UCL’s case, my office, the GEO, has a team dedicated to partnership development, with much of the other activity actually delivered by lots of other departments across the university – a ‘hub and spoke’ model (see image below), with GEO as the ‘hub’.

As Programme Manager, my role is to be a central point of oversight – to plan, monitor and evaluate success, ensuring that progress against objectives across UCL is captured in one place, identifying areas of overlap between different initiatives and supporting delivery offices where needed.

One part of the strategy which I specifically work on is managing the funding to academics to develop their overseas collaborations – recently I was pleased to launch the second year of the Global Engagement Funds.

The 'Hub and Spoke' model for delivering UCL's Global Engagement StrategyWhat are the Global Engagement Funds for?

Global Engagement Funds cover the costs associated with UCL academics collaborating with higher education institutions, organisations or companies abroad.  The aim is to facilitate activity for which there might not be another funding source, but which could be the start of an exciting new initiative.

There were some fascinating projects last year – I remember there was one from Archaeology, involving a researcher partnering with a Dutch NGO to tackle the black market in looted antiquities from Iraq and Syria, through jointly building a database of such objects. Or the lecturer from the Institute for Global Health who funded travel to Kigali to work with the University of Rwanda on the prevention of gender-based violence – including a joint seminar, meetings with key individuals, and visits to potential field sites, with a view to writing a grant proposal.

I’m not part of the decision-making though – the panels are led by Vice-Deans International (VDIs) and regional Pro-Vice-Provosts (PVPRs).

What is the role of the VDIs and PVPRs in the wider strategy?

The PVPRs play an important strategic role as a catalyst for UCL’s engagement in their particular region. Each term they chair the Regional Network meeting; they welcome international delegations to UCL and act as ambassadors for UCL abroad.

While the PVPRs focus on a specific region spanning all of UCL’s faculties, the role of the VDIs spans all regions in a particular faculty. They are a point of contact for academics and work with the Dean to ensure that the faculty’s global partnerships (e.g. teaching, research, consultancy, knowledge transfer) are in line with the wider strategy.

Map showing UCL activity in Europe as at September 2016How do you think the vote for Brexit has impacted on UCL’s plans for global engagement?

I think that it just shows that it is now more important than ever that UCL remains open and engaged with the world, sending a clear message to our partners (see my colleague Conor’s comments).  As our Vice-Provost (International) says, we are redoubling our efforts to meet those objectives set out in the strategy, especially with regard to Europe, one of the regions where we have a significant amount of activity.

Not only that, but I am excited to be part of reviewing, in the light of the Brexit vote, the way in which we intend to go about achieving objectives.