Community school in Karenni, Myanmar (
  • Workshop

Underground educators of Myanmar and what we can learn from them

13 June 2023

Humanities Across Borders invites education researchers and activists, or anyone interested in new directions in curricula development, to participate in a two-hour long, Pedagogies Workshop, in which Tharaphi Than will give an overview of education reconstruction in Burma/Myanmar, and the ground work they have done with communities in Mandalay and Yangon; Hawng Sai will share details of her training program and her experience with underground educators who are providing a lifeline for students inside and along the borders; Jyothi Thrivikraman will discuss how trans-regional collaborations around community-based storytelling can provide global educators an opportunity to learn student-centred syllabus building processes, firsthand. 


During the protests in the streets of Burma/Myanmar since 2021, young people chanted slogans such as ‘When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.’ Young people under the age of 24, i.e., Gen Z, are leading the Myanmar revolution against the military. Many of these young people are students. According to some estimates, 60% of university students are boycotting the military education. Only about one-third of high school students are taking their matriculation exams. Why is there a mass exodus in Myanmar education? Why is the civil disobedience movement the strongest among the educators and students? Why are educators leading the underground teaching and learning activities? Who are the teachers and learners where there is no school? What does it mean to reclaim one’s education in the resistance?

The Workshop will explore these questions and share inspiring stories of underground educators. Participants will have an opportunity to reflect and transpose these ideas into their own teaching and learning contexts.


Hawng Tsai is a teacher educator and education policy advocate, director of Thinking Classroom Foundation, Myanmar. Her works focus on ensuring right to quality and equitable education, indigenous education for marginalized ethnic groups, migrants, refugees, and IDPs in conflict-affected regions in Myanmar and border areas.

Jyothi Thrivikraman is an Assistant Professor in Global Public Health, at the Leiden University College, The Hague, a partner institution of the Humanities Across Borders programme of the IIAS, Leiden.  Jyothi has experience in storytelling as a methodology as well as place-based education. 

Tharaphi Than is an Associate Professor at Northern Illinois University, a partner institution of the Humanities Across Borders programme. She also works pro-bono for Virtual Federal University, an alternative education platform that provides a portal for alternative teaching and learning for faculty and students who refuse to cooperate with the Myanmar junta.



14:00 - 16:00


International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS)
Rapenburg 59
2311 GJ Leiden


For talk inquiries, contact Enrico Joaquin Lapuz at