36 Persons with Disabilities Learn at Vocational Training Center (VTC) in Myanmar (Burma)

Supporting the Work and Independence of Persons with Disabilities

AAR JAPAN has been running a vocational training center (VTC) for persons with disabilities in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon (Rangoon), since 2000. At present, 36 trainees from all over the country are staying in dormitories for roughly three months as they learn technical skills in one of three courses: tailoring, hairstyling, or computers.

Teaching more than mere technical skills, the VTC also arranges a “Morning Talk” activity every morning, through which the trainees can learn about teamwork, leadership, money management, and raising awareness about disabilities. The trainees also have time to discuss a specific topic once a week. These experiences are useful for the trainees, who have often had little opportunity to live or work in a group, to acquire social skills and become independent members of society. The trainees have also been actively involved in their community through voluntary activities such as cleaning pagoda sites and providing haircuts for people in the area, which has contributed to developing understanding about persons with disabilities.

Trainees eat together at the dormitory. Breakfast is prepared by the trainees in turn.

Mr. Myat Moe is a staff member and a graduate of the VTC. Here he gives a lecture on self-help groups for persons with disabilities at the Morning Talk.

90% of Graduates Use Acquired Skills to Get Jobs

After completing the course, many graduates return to their homes to find jobs or start businesses. For graduates from the tailoring and hairstyling courses who want to get experience in shop management, the VTC also offers model shops, where graduates can work for roughly half a year, taking orders from customers as they learn about customer service and accounting.

The VTC conducts monthly surveys of graduates’ career development. Of the 15 graduates visited in June, we found 14 of them were working with the skills they had acquired at the VTC and model shops. 9 had started their own businesses, 4 had found work with regular employers, and 1 was working as a computer skills tutor. We’ve seen similar results from surveys in other months as well, with 937 persons with disabilities having graduated from the VTC to date.

The tailoring course is popular, as both men and women can easily start businesses in their homes.

Sanae HAYASHI (center) and Tomoko SONODA (left), both from AAR JAPAN’s Tokyo office, visit Ms. L Seng AWN (right), who opened her own shop after completing the tailoring course at the VTC.

Mr. Pho Htoo, a trainee in the hairstyling course (30 years old)
“I was born without an arm below my left elbow and missing two toes on my left foot. I applied to the VTC to become financially independent. After completing the course, I want to open a small barbershop in my hometown to save money, and expand the shop into a famous beauty salon in the future. Since I don’t have an arm below my elbow, the teachers at the VTC advised me to wrap a bandage around the upper part of my arm to hold a comb.”

Sanae HAYASHI, AAR Tokyo office
Worked at a private company after graduating university. Studied anthropology at graduate school in England and worked at an international organization before joining AAR JAPAN. Has taken responsibility for projects in Sri Lanka and Myanmar (Burma), and has principally been in charge of projects in Myanmar at the Tokyo office since June 2010. (Born in Tochigi Prefecture)