It started with a simple vision: to change the early childhood education standard in Myanmar. Now, we aspire to change the education standard of the world.
Our story started in 2004 with U Aung Naing Oo, together with Mr. Toru Iwasaki and our current international principal, Mrs. Hitomi Iwasaki, as advisors.
It began when U Aung Naing Oo was 16-years-old. He was about to pass his university matriculation examination, when his father called him. His father told him: "I have to work to support your mother and five sons. I can't do it alone. Please, can you work to support your family?" As the oldest son, U Aung Naing Oo asked for a week to make his decision. At this point, his family did not know if they would even have food to eat for the next day.
He thought about it every night, deep in thought. A week later, he decided to end his education at high school and started working. He did not want his brothers to grow up having to make the same choice he had to make: school or work.
He started working at the Ministry of Agriculture, and under his mentor, he was able to support all of his brothers' education-- including one brother's university degree. When he wanted to learn how to speak and read English, he picked up Times magazine every week and tried his best to read, even when he didn't understand some of his words.
U Aung Naing Oo never stopped wanting to learn, but so much of his education was limited by the circumstances he grew up in. After he had to leave school, he said: "What could I do? I could only cry."
His dream was to be a Captain. But his dream was cut short.
In 1995, U Aung Naing Oo met Mr. Iwasaki. Mr. Iwasaki lived in Japan, New York, Republic of Congo, France, Switzerland and Thailand for his work as a UN and JICA officer. After coming to Myanmar as the Country-Director of UNODC, he moved to JICA to prolong his residency here.
To further develop Myanmar and encourage youth development, U Aung Naing Oo and Mr. Iwasaki decided to start a Sports Against Drugs initiative. Together, they brought baseball to Myanmar, and built the one and only field in the country at the Kyaikassan Sports Institute in Yangon. U Aung Naing Oo is one of the founders and the President of the Myanmar Baseball Federation, and Mr. Iwasaki is called the Father of Myanmar Baseball. He is the special advisor to the Myanmar Baseball Federation, and the head coach of the Myanmar National Baseball Team.
However, they soon realized that the fundamentals of life such as resilience, dedication, commitment and respect could only be fully taught at a young age. U Aung Naing Oo had always wanted to support education because of his personal history, and with his strong relationship with Mr. Iwasaki and our current principal, they formed a team that would inspired a new approach to education in Myanmar.
Our international principal, Hitomi, previously worked in primate and animal conservation in non-profits during her stay in the Republic of Congo as well, working alongside conservationists such as Jane Goodall. In Myanmar, she supported the development of youth baseball as well. She is the nutritionist and healthcare advisor to the Myanmar Baseball Federation.
Together with three Japanese educational advisors, the team built Myanmar's first early childhood education teacher training center, Yangon Infant and Child Development Center (YICDC), in 2004.
The school began training Myanmar teachers in early childhood education to maximize the education's sustainability in the future. In a country that did not have any strong foundations in early childhood education, this was a groundbreaking step. The school was initially a free school for local, Myanmar children. During the first stage of the school, Hitomiintroduced a multilingual program with English, Myanmar and Japanese, an emotional development program and a health and nutritional program with proper lunch.
In 2008, we custom built our first model international school at 10 Nichol's Avenue, Parami Road, with our trained educators and first three students attending. We continued to train new teachers at Khayay Preschool Development Center (formerly YICDC), who would continue on to teach at our model school. Since our initial 3 students, we have nurture over 1500 children from over 25 countries ranging from the ages of 18-months to 12-years-old. We have over hundreds of graduates, many moving on to excellent schools in Myanmar or abroad. The general school staffs are from the Myanmar National Baseball team, as the school supports stable employment, baseball practice and learning through the school.
In 2013, the founder merged the early childhood education teacher training center and Khayay Preschool International to form The Khayay School. Within the new structure, a Faculty Development department with In-House mentors, a Curriculum Research department, and an Educational Design Department was created alongside the Preschool and Primary School Department. We offer classes for children between the ages of 18-months up to Grade 6 this year.
The school serves as a model for pushing innovations in education in Myanmar by not only supporting the learning for children, but professional development for teachers and staff.
In light of this, we will be opening further classes in the very near future. We would like to keep the windows of opportunity open to all children residing in Yangon, Myanmar with our culturally and socially responsible curriculum.
Here is to years of empowering people, and many more to come!