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Our Story

             Virtual Federal University is an online non-profit institution of higher education providing a free, quality education to the persecuted students of Myanmar in times of violent oppression by the military junta. We are an independent community of students and educators who are collectively experimenting to reimagine a new education system able to serve a new federal democratic Myanmar. 

 

            In the aftermath of the 2021 military coup in Myanmar, the State Administrative Council (military junta) dismissed a significant number of teachers and professors, disrupting basic and higher education. VFU was founded in response to this situation in order to create and sustain opportunities for people to continue learning despite violent repression inside Myanmar. 

            Envisioned by Myanmar students who are currently taking part in the democracy movement from within the country, VFU provides a portal for alternative teaching and learning for faculty and students who refuse to cooperate with the Myanmar junta. VFU is currently comprised of a transnational group of scholars, intellectuals, and student union members seeking to create new models of education that value diversity and meet the immediate needs of learners affected by the coup. VFU aims to support the current generation of Myanmar students who have been excluded from access to higher education because the regime controls and targets universities.

           To that end, we offer both self-paced and guided multidisciplinary courses on a variety of topics relevant to Myanmar youth from the highlands to the plains. Intellectuals around the world have contributed to content and teaching on a pro-bono basis in solidarity with the Myanmar Spring Revolutiont. We offer materials accessible on a mobile-friendly website as well as through Telegram channels, radio and TV in and around Myanmar. We also coordinate teacher training programs in rural areas and offer support to communities affected by military repression.

Our Vision

We, students and educators, converge on this portal in a collective struggle towards federal democracy. VFU is not a permanent solution to educational needs, but we are cultivating and protecting these learning resources until physical federal universities can emerge in a future democratic Myanmar. Someday, we hope to turn over this platform to a democratic country that will stretch from the mountains of the Razis in the north to the Yomas in the west, from the riverbanks of the Salween in the east and south, to the floodplains of the Irrawaddy in the heartland. 

Our Mission

VFU’s strengths include a network of volunteers who have experience working in conflict-affected areas. These volunteers know how to oversee the efficient allocation of resources to vulnerable populations as well as how to build connections with international educational institutions to bring global expertise to Myanmar students.

Faculty Members

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Mary Shepard Wong

Azusa Pacific University

Director, Field-based TESOL Programs Professor, Department of Sociology, TESOL, and Modern Languages Fulbright Program Advisor Brief Bio Dr. Mary Shepard Wong is a three-time Fulbright Scholar (The Chinese University Hong Kong 2012-2013; Yangon University 2015-2016; Taiwan 2022) and English Language Specialist to Vietnam. She has conducted 150 presentations and numerous publications including three edited books and a fourth under contract, as well as a textbook with Cambridge University Press. Her teaching and research focus on critical intercultural studies, social justice and peacebuilding in Myanmar, and the role of religious faith in English language teacher identity and development. She holds a doctorate in International & Intercultural Education (University of Southern California), master degrees in East Asian Languages and Cultures (University of California at Los Angeles) and TESOL (Azusa Pacific University). She is Professor / Director of TESOL Field-based Program at Azusa Pacific University in southern California. She has been an educator for over 40 years in the U.S., China, Thailand, and Myanmar. Academic Background PhD, University of Southern California MA, Azusa Pacific University MA, University of Southern California, Los Angeles BA, Westmont College Professional Background Critical Intercultural Studies Professional Development Among Language Educators Social Justice and Peacebuilding in Myanmar TESOL Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages The Intersection of Language Teaching and Faith

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Rose Metro

University of Missouri-Columbia

Assistant Teaching Professor Learning, Teaching and Curriculum Brief Bio Rose Metro holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University. She conducted her doctoral research in Thailand and Burma/Myanmar, and she is interested in the conflicts that arise around history, identity, and language in the classroom. She has taught social studies at the secondary level in the Bronx, NY and in Columbia, MO. She serves as a Burmese language interpreter for Columbia Public Schools, and is conducting research on how Burmese refugee students fare in US schools. Her articles have appeared in Comparative Education Review, Anthropology & Education Quarterly, and International Review of Qualitative Research, as well as in a number of edited volumes. Her textbook, Teaching US History Thematically: Document Based Lessons for the Secondary Classroom, was published by Teachers College Press in 2017, and Teaching World History Thematically: Essential Questions and Document-Based Lessons to Connect Past and Present was published in 2020. Professional Background TESOL Education of refugees and immigrants Qualitative Research Methods Social Studies Education Standards Based Grading and Assessment for Learning

Natalie Brinham

Institute of Statelessness and Inclusion

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Tea Leaf Centre

The Tea Leaf Center is a social enterprise research and training consulting firm which conducts research and M&E consultancies and provides training on research and M&E to civil society organizations in Southeast Asia. We seek to shift the balance of power in international development and research toward local organizations, communities and individuals directly impacted by the issues they are working on. In addition to regular consulting work, our researchers and trainers provide free or reduced cost training and research mentoring services to local non-profit and community-based organizations.

Tharaphi Than

Northern Illinois University

Maw Htun

Northern Illinois University

Arash Sedighi

Northern Illinois University

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Stephen Campbell

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

An anthropologist in the School of Social Sciences at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

 Dr. Stan Jagger

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