Collaboration with Jesuit-based higher learning institutions inMyanmar and Thailand

In recent years, two Jesuit schools have been established in Myanmar and Thailand to offer higher learning to minority studentsbelonging to diverse ethnic, linguistic and religious groups. These schools are located in areas that are challenged by poverty,income disparity, inter-ethnic coexistence and lack of educational access, the key issues of sustainable development addressedby Jesuit education. Sophia University recently began collaborating with these two institutions to tackle these issues.

Professor Komatsu delivered a lectureat SAG Institute of Higher Studies

On February 5-6, 2018, Taro Komatsu, director of the Center for Global Education andDiscovery and a professor in the Department of Education at Sophia University, visited the StAloysius Gonzaga (SAG) Institute of Higher Studies in Taunggyi, a hilltop town located in theState of Shan, Myanmar. SAG Institute of Higher Studies was established in 2011 to provideaccess to quality higher learning opportunities to youth in the country. Currently, thegovernment of Myanmar does not recognize higher education offered by a private entity.The institute provides social science studies in English, following the curriculum used in aJesuit university in Indonesia. Students of diverse religions, including Buddhism,Christianity and Islam, attend the school and share learning within and outside theclassrooms and in the dormitory. This has special meaning, given that inter-group tensionstill continues in some places in Myanmar, a highly multi-ethnic society.

Students of diverse backgrounds arelearning at the Institute

At the request of the SAG Institute, Professor Komatsu delivered a lecture on “education andpeace” for some 120 students enrolled at the institute, and later discussed issues pertainingto education with a group of minority students. A plan is underway to bring togetherstudents from SAG Institute and Sophia University in an online discussion of commoninterests during the coming spring semester.

Students of XLC and Sophia Universityjoined for a field trip

On March 2-3, 2018, Yasushi Hirosato, a professor of the Faculty of Global Studies at SophiaUniversity, visited Xavier Learning Community (XLC) in northern Thailand with a group ofSophia students. The visit was planned as part of a study tour that aimed to enhancestudents’ understanding of social and economic changes occurring in the regions along theMekong River. On the first day, ten Sophia students, along with XLC students, visited villagesinhabited by minority ethnic groups, then discussed the issues faced by these villagers onthe following day. XLC was established by a Jesuit society in 2017 and currently workstowards becoming an established higher education institution by the year 2022. Most of thesubjects are taught in English and its curriculum is aimed to strengthen students’ English
competency in the social science fields.

Sophia students and minoritystudents engaged in discussion

As in the case of the SAG Institute of Higher Studies in Myanmar, the region surrounding XLCis faced with the challenges of overcoming poverty and achieving inter-group harmony. Bothstudents of XLC and Sophia are planning to continue their joint learning on-line after theSophia students return home. Sophia University, in collaboration with XLC, is also planningto develop a service-learning program in northern Thailand in the near future.