Shaping Community Leaders—Pinnya Tagar Academy

Pinnya Tagar Academy is both a partner and inspiration to Face of Indawgyi. With their help, we have been able to develop and refine our vision for the villages around the lake. 

The program was founded by Myanmar Communities Academies Programme (MCAP) and other leaders in education, conservation, and capacity building across the country to train students with the skills and knowledge they need to improve their communities. 

Pinnya Tagar was established in 2011 and is one of three schools located in ethnic minority states of Myanmar. To understand this better, it helps to know that Myanmar is divided into fourteen administrative provinces—seven regions and seven states. The regions are mostly inhabited by the Bamar, the majority ethnic group, while the states comprise the local minority groups. Each state is named after the largest group present there.

Thomas Zauring, the Kachin State program director,  has shaped the curriculum to help serve a particularly complex region. Each of the three schools has an individual focus to address the specific issues of their populations. In Kayah and Kayin States, the focus is employment and continuing on to higher education, respectively.

Pinnya Tagar's second graduating class.

Pinnya Tagar's second graduating class.

As both an educator and a Kachin native, Thomas has identified rural development as the most pressing need for the state. For this reason, each student must complete two separate internships at the end of their studies. The first is based in Myitkyina, where the school is located, and the second back in their hometowns.

One common problem in the country is that people with higher educations move to cities because of increased opportunities and pay. As a result, this leaves communities in a never-ending cycle of losing their most capable leaders. Pinnya Tagar's goal is to create a generation of talented individuals with the educational background and skills necessary to solve the challenges unique to each area. 

One of Thomas's aims has been to expand the program into Indawgyi. Our team member, Sut Mai Aung Kareng, is the first graduate of Pinnya Tagar from the lake. He will be leading two interns, May Zin Oo and Htu Ra, from the academy who will come help us on our projects starting in October. Their work will have a strong focus on promoting education in the region particularly through the lens of conservation. We are looking forward to them joining our team and helping us to better understand the needs of Indawgyi.