|Annual report and audited accounts for the year ended 31 March 2006|
Trustees, Officers And Advisers
Charity Number 802615The Board of Trustees
Martin Morland CMG, Chairman
Patricia Herbert, Vice -Chairman
David Colvin, CMG
Daw Kyi Kyi May
Anna Allott, OBE
Dr Thein Lwin
Sir Christopher Robin KBE, CMG
Ian C Sloane
David LeFebvre BEM
& Registered Auditors
342 Regents Park Road
The Royal Bank of Scotland plc
50-54 High Street
The trustees have pleasure in presenting their report and the financial statements of the charity for the year ended 31 March 2006
1. The objectives set out in our trust deed, dated 1989 are:
2. "To further the peaceful development of education among young persons who are citizens of Burma or who are, by origin of Burmese descent or who by reason of parental or family relationships are connected with the country of Burma, and to develop and encourage amongst such persons a knowledge of the cultural and historical development of Burma."
3. We have captured the essence of our purpose in our Mission Statement: "Keeping the Flame of Education Alive..."
5. To ensure a cadre of educated Burmese able to return and help rebuild civil society once military rule comes to an end, we arrange programmes and projects for the education and training of talented but needy Burmese who are dedicated to a democratic future. Our main method of achieving our aims is the provision of scholarships at educational institutions abroad. We are also on the lookout for opportunities to set up more training courses and other projects for young Burmese in neighbouring countries, as indeed we have done in past years.
6. We continue to support a Burmese-run English Language school in Delhi which helps some very poor refugees qualify for further study. One of our Trustees, Dr Thein Lwin has, with our support and that of several other donors, been running a series of successful Teacher Training courses on the Thai side of the border. He is now branching into Vocational Training and Education for migrant workers and refugees. We are helping an intensive English language course in Kachin State, and we have financed short courses in Thailand for Burmese journalists.
8. The Treasurer, David LeFebvre, is a professional accountant retained on a fee basis. Much work on scholarships is done by our Vice-Chairman, Patricia Herbert, on a voluntary basis. We are also grateful to Juliette Daigre who has improved our website and injected some computer expertise particularly in maintaining our confidential student database. Plans to redesign and update the website, and to improve the office computer systems, financed by a generous supporter, were put into effect in the summer of 2006.
9. Overseas, we pay a small retainer to a part-time consultant in Thailand, Shona Kirkwood, who also works for the Open Society Institute. She provides much welcome on-the spot advice, keeps in touch with students and identifies needs, as well as acting as our paying agent to our scholars. In Delhi, until 2005 the Principal of the English Language School, Daw Thin Thin Aung checked the enrolments and credentials of Delhi- based short listed applicants, and paid them on our behalf in return only for expenses. In summer 2005, a new organisation, the Student Information Centre staffed by Burmese successfully took over these duties for a nominal fee, cutting out fraudulent claims and saving both staff time and money on bank transfer fees.
11. Our "Adopt-A-Scholarship Scheme" by which supporters can give money for individual scholars to support specific courses was begun in 2005; and has attracted a good response; we suggest units of œ550 ($1000) which was the average cost of a grant. In the year under review it brought in œ9,350 with pledges of ongoing support. We have also encouraged supporters to leave a bequest to Prospect Burma in their wills, and produced a legacy leaflet.
12. The Development Officer's main duty is the production twice yearly of our Newsletter which is our principal means of regular communication with supporters. She has also made applications to a range of grant-giving institutions and maintained contact with funders generally.
13. We have benefited from grants from the Schroder Charitable Trust, the E S G Robinson Charitable Trust, the Jack Ringer Family Foundation, the Eddie Dinshaw Foundation, the G C Gibson Charitable Settlement Tust, the Henry Hoare Trust, the Thomas Sivewright Catto Charitable Settlement, the Britain Burma Relief Mission, the Ampleforth Abbey Trust, the Irene Hamilton Charitable Trust the Tam O'Shanter Trust, the Wintershall Charitable Settlement and the Serve All Trust. HSBC have sponsored a number of students at Asian universities, and have promised funding for a scholarship dedicated to the memory of Sir David Gore-Booth, son of our Vice Patron and a Director of HSBC before his untimely death. For all this help as well as to faithful individual donors, some of whom have donated significant sums, we are extremely grateful.
14. We have continued to receive regular financial support from the Prize Funds of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Her support is vital to our appeal to all who believe in a future democratic Burma. Our major single donor continues to be the United States Department of State, Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. A two year grant of $200,000 (following previous grants of $150,000) was exhausted in 2005, and was replaced by a reduced grant of $125,000. The reduction is due to a cut in the congressional funds earmarked for Burma, although there are hopes that more will be available in future years.
15. Generosity from across the Atlantic is not confined to US Government sources. Some 10% of our individual supporters reside in the USA, and we are able to offer American taxpayers a facility whereby their donations are tax deductible
16. The reserves policy remains unchanged. Prospect Burma has no long term debts and the main risk to manage is the need to fulfil contractual obligations to staff. It is thus decided to keep, at a minimum, a sufficient sum on deposit to provide for payments to staff for three months. All other payments are discretionary, and scholarship awards and other charitable expenditure, as well as consequent unavoidable administration expenses, are made in accordance with the amount of funds available in excess of reserves. While this makes our activities liable to fluctuation from year to year in the absence of an assurance of continuous major income, the Trustees believe that maximising the expenditure of donated income for the purposes set out in our Trust Deed is preferable to keeping resources inactive.
18. Consequently, we are largely continuing our existing policy and practice. We give financial support to help some of those who have lost out due to both political persecution and lack of educational opportunity. The demand for the services we offer continues to increase, particularly from Burmese refugees and students in India. Their situation has become more desperate in many cases as the UN High Commission for Refugees has cut their (already meagre) subsistence allowances, and they receive little or no help from Indian authorities. In Thailand too, the authorities have begun to tighten their immigration rules on Burmese exiles, while many refugees are due for resettlement in a third country. We concentrate our assistance on students in these two countries, but implementation of scholarship awards in both has become more testing.
19. In implementing our policy, we give preference to needy and committed students in disciplines relevant to the revival of civil society in a democratic Burma. They have generally gained a place on a first degree course, or are postgraduate students who have already started or have a confirmed offer of a place on a Master's degree or Doctorate course. While we consider applications from those studying in any part of the world, we give preference to students in South-East Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. We do not aim to cover full costs, nor do we pay international airfares. We make it a condition of our awards that scholars have the intention to return to Burma when they are able to do so in order to rebuild civil society, and we ask them to sign a declaration to that effect. In assessing applications we take into account financial and sociological need and commitment to democracy as well as academic prowess or promise. We coordinate closely with the other major funder in this field, the New York based Open Society Institute's Supplementary Grant Programme as well as with other, smaller organisations. We endeavour to maintain an ethnic and gender balance, but our ability to do so is affected by the applications we receive.
21. The past pattern of increasing applications, especially from refugees in India continued in 2005/2006. We received some 900 applications in the first quarter of 2006, compared to 800 in 2005 all of which were carefully assessed in accordance with our selection criteria. For applicants in Thailand we again received enormous assistance from Shona Kirkwood and her staff in Chiang Mai. Ms Kirkwood knows many of the applicants personally and is in touch with them and with educational institutions. The Student Information Centre in Delhi checked identities and enrolments in India for us, and then paid the successful applicants. This assisted greatly in ensuring that we only funded genuine students and that they received their grants securely.
22. We have continued our cooperation with the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok and jointly funded one full scholarship in 2005. Unfortunately, the Institute has informed us that it could not offer to share a full scholarship in 2006 due to financial difficulties. Assumption University in Bangkok continued allowing our grantees a reduction in fees as well as a number of part scholarships.
23. We continued to fund students in other parts of the world, but our criteria are applied more stringently given the generally much higher costs of courses in western institutions.
24. The total expended on scholarships in 2005 was nearly œ124,000, a rise of œ15,000 or 13.8 % compared to 2004. Details are set out below. Grants to students in UK were made in sterling and to Europe in sterling or euros. Grants to students elsewhere were made in US dollars, but the following figures (rounded) are all expressed in sterling.
The ethnic distribution of the successful applicants was:
25. The distribution roughly reflects the distribution of applications. The high incidence of Chins is due to the preponderance of refugees of Chin origin in India.
We continued supporting the small English Language Teaching school in New Delhi run by a Burmese lady for the benefit of very poor Burmese refugees of whom a majority is from the Chin ethnic minority group. We made a grant of £7,650 to the School.
One of our trustees (and a former grant recipient), Dr Thein Lwin, continued running his Teacher Training Courses on the Thai border. These have been very successful despite many difficulties for students to reach the venues, and visa and other entry problems. There is evidence of participants returning and applying the techniques learnt in their Burmese schools. Dr Thein Lwin has been meticulous in maintaining a gender and ethnic balance among his students, and in reporting to donors. PB contributed $10,000(£5,900) this year following a similar donation last year.
We also supported a Kachin English Language Training Language School to the extent of $3,600 (£2,120).
26. We again supported the small English Language Teaching School in New Delhi run by a Burmese lady, Daw Thin Thin Aung, for the benefit of very poor Burmese refugees who are mainly from the Chin ethnic minority group. We made a grant of $15,000 (œ8,333) to the School. Daw Thin Thin Aung decided to give up her position with the School in 2006, and she is succeeded by Ko Myat Thu. We would like to thank Daw Thin Thin for her years of service to the School and the efficient way she has administered it.
32. The trustees are responsible for keeping proper accounting records which disclose with reasonable accuracy at any time the financial position of the charity and enable them to ensure that the financial statements comply with the Charities Act 1993. They are also responsible for safeguarding the assets of the charity and hence for taking reasonable steps for the prevention and detection of fraud and other irregularities.
34. Following a difficult year for fundraising in 2004/2005, we had a more successful record in 2005/2006. Our income rose by 37% to œ232,876 while total expenditure increased by œ13,384 to œ168,321 or 8.6%. Most of this was due to more spending on our charitable objectives which increased by 10.6%. Costs are kept to a minimum consonant with efficiency. The cost of administration was œ34,225 compared to œ33,701 in 2004-05, an increase of 1.5%. This represents 20% of total expenditure, but œ13,604 is directly attributable to the fundraising effort and publicity cost.
35. The difference between our income and expenditure at œ63,512 may seem excessive, but is a result of our recent improvement in fundraising. When making scholarship and other grants in the summer, we do not know how our income will develop and we have to be conservative. The cushion will enable us to be more confident in expenditure in 2007-2008, a time when we do not yet know whether the US State Department will continue funding us.
37. The political outlook brightened briefly during 2002 when Daw Suu was given permission to travel. This followed efforts by the United Nations to facilitate dialogue and a transition to democracy in the country. However events took a turn for the worse when in May 2003 Daw Suu and a number of her supporters were attacked on the road, and she was forced back into custody. She has now passed a total of 11 years under house arrest, and we have been unable to maintain contact with her. The military government has often stated that it will introduce a new constitution. But the NLD and other pro-democracy groups remain suppressed and forbidden from activity. During 2006 the regime also began to re-arrest student leaders that had taken part in the 1988 democracy movement. Thousands of refugees continue to leave the country, including many ethnic minority peoples, causing the UN Security Council to put Burma's political crisis on its formal agenda. Burma's impasse thus continues, and over 1,100 political prisoners remain in jail.
38. There is little sign of a reduction in demand for our programmes. Indeed, with increased pressure on ethnic minorities, especially the Karen, the flow of refugees is increasing. More generally, educational standards within Burma are still falling, and many families go to extraordinary financial lengths to give their children further education abroad. We frequently hear from applicants that their parents have sold the family home to finance university fees and living expenses abroad. Even this usually fails to yield sufficient funds given the low level of the kyat.
39. Fundraising continues to be a difficult and competitive task with fluctuating fortunes. Corporate fundraising remains almost impossible. As already noted, we have seen an improvement recently but the outlook remains uncertain. We are highly reliant on our regular supporters, but many are elderly, and we need constantly to identify new donors in a highly competitive market where Burma occupies a relatively small niche. We are lucky to continue receiving income from the interest on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's Peace Prize Funds. It is tragic that we are unable to communicate with her and express our heartfelt thanks. It is unfortunate that neither HM Government nor the European Union contribute despite the political pressure they continue to exert on the Burmese regime, so far fruitlessly.
40. We are frequently asked about the results of our efforts: what happens to our grantees after their graduation? We try to keep in touch and encourage them to do so, but our resources are limited. Some cannot return to Burma at present for fear of imprisonment or worse, and they often take part in campaigning in support of democratic movements. Some work with refugees on the borders. Of those who can and do return, they usually work with NGOs or on humanitarian or educational projects. Some of course remain in their countries of residence and obtain jobs. Nearly all aspire to return home when they can. We make it a condition of our grants to individuals that they should return when feasible, and we try to ensure that we reject applications from any sympathisers with the current regime, encouraging those who demonstrate a genuine belief in democratic government. Our aim is to try and ensure that there is a cadre of qualified Burmese able and willing to rebuild civil society when the present regime falls, as it inevitably will. We believe we are succeeding despite the present inauspicious political outlook. We are supporting educationally the brave political leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi and believe that investment in education is the best way to assist Burma's democratic development in the long term.
Martin Morland CMG Patricia Herbert
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