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“Reading stories has opened up the world to me.”

Thu Zar Khin’s dream – like many other children’s – is to become a teacher. However, her life is quite different to other children in the world. She and her family lives as refugees within their own country, due to intern-communal violence in their hometown. Thanks to UNICEF, she’s now given non-formal education and can work towards reaching her dream.
School days at the Temporary Learning Space. Photo: UNICEF/2017/Nay Win Myint.
Storytime with siblings. Photo: UNICEF/2017/Nay Win Myint.

Thu Zar Khin was born in Koung Dan Ward, Sittwe in Myanmar.  Her family was poor and life was tough, she and her siblings were often hungry. Despite this, she attended grade 1 of primary school in her village which she enjoyed. But in 2012, after only one year of schooling, she had to drop out due to the inter-communal violence in Sittwe.

Thu Zar Khin had to flee together with her parents and seven siblings. They went to a camp near Sittwe, and became Internally Displaced People (IDP), meaning they have fled their homes but have not crossed an international border.

In the IDP camp, life was different and challenging. However, her life turned to the better, when UNICEF started Temporary Learning Centres in the camps. Thu Zar Khin joined grade 2, and even though she couldn’t attend regularly and struggled a lot to keep up, she persevered. Now she’s in grade 3 and attends school every day. Her siblings are also attending the Temporary Learning Centre in different grades.

Storytelling improves confidence

A highlight for Thu Zar Khin has been participating in extracurricular activities. Her eyes light up when she describes her favourite activity – storytelling. Thu Zar Khin gets the chance to read all kinds of storybooks, including reading aloud to her younger siblings, which has enhanced her understanding of the wider world, her curiosity and developed her confidence.


“I love reading stories.”

12-year-old Thu Zar Khin

“I love reading stories. I now know about the environment, people and how to solve problems. I have already learned lots of lessons from stories, this will help me to become a good teacher and help other children who have lost out on school,” she says.

With the support of H&M Foundation, UNICEF is providing non-formal education to over 6,000 students like Thu Zar Khin who have been deprived of formal education.

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