About IAPS

Overview

The Build Project Australia's central programme is the Institute of Academic and Practical Studies (IAPS) based in Mae Sot, Northern Thailand. IAPS offers a two-year residential training programme for 17-25 year old migrants from Burma.

IAPS aims to assist these young people and their communities by providing a relevant, skills based education with a focus on leadership and community building.

The IAPS model aims to:

  • help students to develop skills and experience relevant to their context and needs
  • promote critical thinking and independent learning, supported by a broad-based curriculum
  • bring together educational advisors from the local Burmese community with well-prepared English-speaking volunteer workers to develop and deliver a high-quality curriculum
  • facilitate dialogue and mentoring within the Thai and Burmese migrant community.

Students

At IAPS there are 12 students (6 male, 6 female) aged 17-25. The students have completed high-school to Year 10 and have strong English language skills.

Our students were selected to participate on the basis of their commitment to learning and their desire to take action to help others. On a daily basis, we see them demonstrate this dedication to improving their own future and that of their community.

Many of the young people we work with have experienced ongoing instability and ordeals which forced them to leave Burma, and often their families. Without the opportunities offered by IAPS, they face a life of disadvantage as displaced people who are denied basic rights. IAPS takes very seriously the need to ensure the safety of our students in a precarious context, and to look after their physical and emotional well-being.

Students are expected to participate in the full duration of the two-year programme.

Curriculum

Essential components of the IAPS curriculum are:

  • English - Speaking, reading and writing
  • Thai language - Speaking, reading and writing
  • Computer literacy - Encompassing both basic and advanced skills
  • Internet literacy - How to use it and website design
  • Office administration - How to work effectively in an office setting
  • Social Science - Getting to know the world through history, geography & political studies
  • Community Development - Creating a sense of local and global responsibility
  • Income generation - Practical and business skills which will help students to support themselves
  • Extra classes of interest - Additional classes offered in a range of subjects 
  • Student Leadership programme - To create confident future leaders, especially amongst our young women

All courses apart from Thai language classes are taught in English.

The IAPS teaching calendar comprises seven six-week terms. The curriculum is taught in modules which fit within these terms. This enables us to engage volunteer teachers for relatively short periods, and accommodates mobility of teachers and students where necessary. 

Delivery of Lessons

Lesson content is guided by the defined two-year curriculum, and by students' own aims and goals. Teachers are encouraged to assist in developing teaching materials and improving curriculum content where appropriate, and to work with the students to explore their areas of interest.

IAPS encourages an interactive approach to learning, including class discussions, group work, presentations, peer learning and student presentations.

All students are given the use of classroom computers for the duration of the programme. We encourage extensive use of computers and the internet in the classroom, to increase confidence in using technology and promote independent learning. We put a high prioroty on teaching safe and responsible use of the internet, as many students have had little or no prior exposure to new technologies. 

Where appropriate, people from local businesses, organisations and the Thai and Burmese community will be invited into the classroom to give talks and demonstrations related to the course content. Opportunities for hands-on and practical application of skills will also be encouraged through work experience placements and volunteer roles.

Mentoring and Community

The mentoring model is used extensively at IAPS; all participants are expected to become familiar with the benefits of mentoring, and know how to use it effectively.

  • Volunteers who have returned home may be invited to continue to act as mentors to students, corresponding via the internet
  • We employ peer learning techniques where appropriate
  • Students plan and implement projects to help others in the wider community

As part of the curriculum, students will plan and implement a structured community development programme with a mix of people from their local community. Students identify opportunities to put their community development and leadership skills into practice by helping others in their region. 

The student charter, established by the student planning commitee, defines the rules for the school and boarding house.

Boarding Facilities

IAPS is a residential facility which provides boarding, food and basic living essentials. Students work in teams to carry out domestic chores and household maintenance, but are also challenged to lead the planning and decision-making related to housekeeping, budget management and improvement of the facilities. These activities are seen as an exercise in project management and troubleshooting, and also as an important step towards independence.

Extra-curricular activities, including art, music and sport are encouraged and supported. All volunteers are encouraged to become fully engaged in the life of the school and participate in school activities.