Foundation Projects

Equal Access to Information Society in Myanmar (second phase)

Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation

This project helped the Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation (MBAPF) combine and scale three programs: Mobile Information Literacy (MIL), Tech Age Girls Myanmar (TAG), and the Business Startup Development Program.

Background

The Beyond Access project had already equipped 210 libraries around Myanmar with Internet, enabling 360,000 people to use a digital device for the first time. Telco Ooredoo Myanmar is partnering on the project to invest in an additional 40 community libraries, mostly in underserved or unserved areas.

This impact grant focused primarily on equipping thousands of participants — primarily youth and women — at these 40 additional community libraries to develop digital literacy skills.

An earlier phase of this project was supported with an ISIF Asia grant, and also received an ISIF Asia award.

Outcomes

The "Equal Access to Information Society in Myanmar" project was launched on 1st January 2022. The project was implemented during a particularly challenging time in Myanmar's history, as the military took over on the 1st of February 2021. This situation disrupted almost all project activities.

This meant that formal forms of education like capacity building, on neutral grounds such as MBAPF community centers, became extremely important. The project aimed to use a comprehensive approach to cover a diverse group of people in Myanmar, especially reaching to the most vulnerable population. 

Despite the challenges MBAPF, with IREX support, was able to achieve the following: 

  1. 40 additional communities (initially planned for 20) received free data to extend MBAPF's Beyond Access Myanmar library network from 210 to 250 centers across the country. Over 125,012 people visited these 40 centers by December 2022, an 80% increase from the library visitor-ship in 2021.  Beyond providing free connectivity in these sites, Ooredoo Myanmar also donated digital devices (laptops, tablets and mobile phones) valued at over USD 100,000. These centers became the local hubs for latest news, digital technology learning centers and job searching centers.  
  1. 4,500+ (10% more than planned) people received training on mobile information literacy through 20 community libraries from May 2022 to March 2023. Participants showed elevated levels of satisfaction and most expressed they would share the materials with at least five persons and above in the following year. Therefore, MBAPF is confident to say that another 20,000 people would be getting this training.  
  1. 200 girls from 40 communities were selected to participate in the Tech Age Girl (TAG) Myanmar project launched in February 2022. TAG is a 9-month course based at the community centers where girls are trained on leadership skills, project management skills and other soft skills, so shy, timid rural girls are transformed into active, energetic, women leaders who are contributing back to their communities. As part of the program, 40 community projects were successfully conducted as part of TAG.  
Picture shows participants in the Tech Age Girls project
Tech Age Girls participants
  1. 43 SME owners from rural and most vulnerable area were trained on small business management, human resource management, financial management and digital marketing as they most of these business startups do not have the skill and knowledge of business operation. The six months training course was followed by a mentorship program until January 2023. This component was done in collaboration with Myanmar Business Executive (MBE), a local NGO which was founded by successful business executives in Myanmar.  

In all elements the creation of ownership was at the center. Additionally, beyond TAG the project had a big impact at gender inclusion as 60% of participating libraries are women led community-based libraries. Additionally, 65% (32 organizations) of the SME are women led and 70% are from rural areas. 

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