Phaung Daw Oo Monastic School Wins Citizen of Burma Award

By The Irrawaddy 29 May 2017

RANGOON—Phaung Daw Oo Monastic School in Mandalay, led by Buddhist monk Sayadaw U Nayaka, has been named this year’s recipient of the Citizen of Burma Award.

The award is given annually by Burmese living abroad in honor of those who work for the benefit of Burmese society. It was announced on Sunday in Colorado, US.

The school principal and abbot of Phaung Daw Oo Monastery, Sayadaw U Nayaka, is known for developing a teaching method radically different from what is often encountered in Burma’s moribund public education system.

Phaung Daw Oo Monastic School provides free education and health services to some 9,000 students. The center is well known for its child-centered approach.

The US-based Citizen of Burma Award organization also honored three other individual and community-based organizations: social worker Ko Soe Htike, who cofounded the single mother support center Myint Mo Myittar; Save the Library in Myanmar; and Ko Aye Kyaw Kyaw, an electrical engineer based in Rangoon.

The Citizen of Burma Award comes with a US$10,000 prize, while the special award winners receive $1,000 from the award committee.

“Sayadaw [U Nayaka] is happy to receive the award. He said it’s a recognition for his work and a strength to continue,” Buddhist monk, U Tayzaw, an assistant to Sayadaw U Nayaka, told The Irrawaddy. The monk added that the prize would be spent on their work in Burma’s education system.

The first recipient of the award, which was inaugurated in 2010, was Free Funeral Services Society founder Kyaw Thu. Last year, it was given to Dr. Than Min Htut, who provides health care and promotes reproductive health access in rural villages in Shan State.

Thirty-seven people and organizations were nominated for the award. The nominees include assassinated NLD legal advisor U Ko Ni; taxi driver Ko Nay Win, who gave his life trying to apprehend the assassin of U Ko Ni; Burmese journalist Ko Swe Win; U Myat Thu Win, chairman of the Shwe Minn Tha Foundation, which helps people with disabilities; human rights activist U Aung Myo Min and others.

A formal award ceremony will be held on June 4 in Rangoon.