|Annual report and audited accounts for the year ended 31 March 2007|
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 Robin Christopher KBE, CMG
Ian C Sloane
David LeFebvre BEM
Chartered Accountants & Registered Auditors
342 Regents Park Road
The Royal Bank of Scotland plc
50-54 High Street
Report of The Trustees
The trustees have pleasure in presenting their report and the financial statements of the charity for the year ended 31 March 2007.
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 planning, with the help of a new donor, to finance a new education programme to be run by Dr Thein Lwin with some of our alumni as staff.
7. We are helping an intensive English language course in Kachin State, we have begun to finance selected students on English Language courses run by the British Council in Rangoon. We are planning to finance some vocational training courses in Delhi.
9. 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. Both she and another trustee, Lindy Ambrose, also provide much assistance in office management.
10. 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. We have received assistance and advice from the Development officer at the asian Institute of Technology. In Delhi, we have benefited from the assistance of the Student Information Centre where Lata Pillai in particular has checked our student grant shortlists, verified enrolments and identities, and acted as our paying agent. We have also recently been indebted to Chris Barr who has lived for a time with the Burmese community in Delhi and has put forward some project proposals.
11. Our Vice-Chairman and Development Officer have both travelled on Prospect Burma business. Patricia Herbert attended a student alumni meeting in Thailand and visited universities where we are funding students, while Elizabeth Bluck went to a Teacher Training Centre in Thailand, and the English Language Training school we are sponsoring in Delhi.
13. 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 £550 ($1000) which was the average cost of a grant. In the year under review it brought in £9,350 with pledges of ongoing support. We also encourage supporters to leave a bequest to Prospect Burma in their wills.
14. We have benefited from grants from the Schroder Charitable Trust, the E S G Robinson Charitable Trust, the Eddie Dinshaw Foundation, the G C Gibson Charitable Settlement Trust, the Henry Hoare Trust, the Ampleforth Abbey Trust, the Tam O’Shanter Trust, the Wintershall Charitable Settlement, the Lady More Trust, the Association for Cultural Exchange and the Serve All Trust. HSBC have followed up their three year sponsorship programme with a scholarship fund dedicated to the memory of Sir David Gore-Booth, son of our Vice Patron and a Director of HSBC before his untimely death. We would also like to thank those who have raised money for us at events they have organised, and the energetic supporters who have undertaken sponsored runs. We have also benefited from some legacies. For all this help as well as to faithful individual donors, some of whom have donated significant sums, we are extremely grateful.
15. 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. They are continuing the support we have received since 1999, and have recently followed a $125,000 two year grant with one of $250,000 also spread over two years.
16. 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
18. Our policy remains essentially the same as last year. Education in Burma has been subject since 1988 to strict military control with higher level institutions closed for long periods, no reform of the traditional rote learning methods, and a progressive deterioration in the quality of staff, removal of campuses to remoter areas, under-financing and isolation from outside influences. Only relatives of the ruling generals and their supporters have had access to better quality instruction. There is no sign that the situation is likely to change. Indeed, students are increasingly seeking good quality tertiary education abroad as the dire standard of the Burmese system is widely realised by Burmese students and their parents.
20. 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 donor organisations. We endeavour to maintain an ethnic and gender balance, but our ability to do so is dependent on the applications we receive.
22. The past pattern of increasing applications, especially from refugees in India, continued in 2006/2007. We received a thousand applications in 2007, compared to just under 900 in 2006 all of which were carefully assessed in accordance with our selection criteria. Even with increased help from Shona Kirkwood in Chiang Mai and the Student Information Center in Delhi, the assessment process has placed an increasing demand on our staff resources and is continuing to do so in 2007.
23. Although we wish to continue our cooperation with the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Bangkok, their financial problems have precluded a joint full scholarship in 2006
and 2007. Assumption University in Bangkok continued allowing our grantees a reduction in fees. An innovation in 2007 is the setting up of a full scholarship scheme and fee waiver for undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Miriam College in the Philippines We aim to award six scholarships in the coming academic year.
24. 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.
25. The total expended on scholarships in 2007 was £152,000, a rise of £28,000 or 22.6% compared to 2006 (taking into account exchange rate developments in 2007, the increase was greater)*. Details are set out below. Grants to students in UK were made in sterling and to Europe in sterling or dollars. Grants to students elsewhere were made in US dollars, but the following figures (rounded) are all expressed in sterling.
* We have applied in this report an average exchange rate for the period 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007 of £1 = $1.89.
The ethnic distribution of the successful applicants was:
26. 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.
27. We have also supported two students on British Council English Language courses in Rangoon, and intend to continue to support them, and two more in 2007.
28. We again supported the small English Language Teaching School in New Delhi formerly run by Daw Thin Thin Aung, for the benefit of very poor Burmese refugees who are mainly from the Chin ethnic minority group. Daw Thin Thin has been replaced as Principal by U Myat Thu. We made a grant of $16,000 (£8,466) to the School.
29. Dr Thein Lwin, one of our trustees, continued running his Teacher Training Courses on the Thai border, and indeed has expanded his activities into vocational training and courses for Burmese migrant workers. His operations are always meticulously administered, and his reports are models of their kind. We are pleased to have made our usual donation of $10,000 (£5,291).
30. We also again supported a Kachin English Language Training Language School (in Kachin State) to the extent of $4,800 (£2,540). The Principal of the School is currently attending a postgraduate course at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne with the help of one of our grants.
31. The trustees in office during the period and at the date of this report are set out on page 1. New trustees are nominated by members of the existing Board of Trustees, interviewed and appointed where they have the necessary skills, enthusiasm and experience to contribute to the charity’s development. We were very pleased to welcome Lindy Ambrose as a trustee. Lindy contributes to the work of our office, and she and her husband are generous donors.
• select suitable accounting policies and then apply them consistently;
• make judgements and estimates that are reasonable and prudent;
• state whether applicable accounting standards and statements of recommended practice have been followed subject to any departures disclosed and explained in the financial statements; and
• prepare the financial statements on the going concern basis unless it is inappropriate to presume that the charity will continue in business.
33. 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.
35. We again had a successful fundraising effort. Our income rose by 35.2% to £314,895 while total expenditure increased by £61,997 to £230,318 or 36.8%. Of this expenditure, 76% was devoted to our charitable objectives, and just under 10% was spent on publicity and fundraising. While 14% of income was spent on management and administration, the notes to the accounts show that in the year concerned, we suffered a loss of £7,767 due to the adverse effects of foreign exchange movements plus bank charges compared to a gain of £3,308 the previous year. If we ignore this uncontrollable expense, the management costs were just under £24,000, or 10.5% of total expenditure. We make every effort to run as economically as possible.
36. International concern is spreading that Burma is on the brink of a new cycle of humanitarian and political emergency. Hopes of national reconciliation are fading as the military State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) seeks to move ahead with epoch-shaping changes intended to secure military-based government for another generation. Crucially, at this critical moment in Burma’s history, pro-democracy parties are being excluded and repression is increasing around the country.
37. During early 2007, the SPDC entrenched on several different fronts. The regime tied up lucrative business deals with Asian neighbours, consolidated the new capital at Nay Pyi Taw, and promoted the mass Union Solidarity and Development Association as the new “civilian” face of community organisation in the country. Subsequently, the SPDC restarted its hand-picked National Convention in mid-July to finalise a new constitution that will guarantee the military’s “leading role” in “national political life”.
38. Citizens throughout Burma are deeply worried. The SPDC’s political roadmap is far from inclusive. Ethnic ceasefire groups have continued attendance at the National Convention in the hopes of gaining local autonomy. But Senior-General Than Shwe and his close band of advisors appear increasingly hard-line. Indeed pro-democracy supporters fear that the extinction of the opposition National League for Democracy is now a very real threat.
39. Since May 2007 the harassment of NLD and 88 Generation Student members has markedly increased; the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi, who supports Prospect Burma, has been extended for another year; and Burma’s new constitution is being drawn up without the participation of the NLD and ethnic parties that overwhelmingly won the 1990 general election.
40. Equally divisive, the SPDC has intensified military operations against armed ethnic forces in the Thai borderlands, forcing thousands more villagers from their homes. Burma is currently reported to have over 540,000 internally-displaced persons, the highest number in any Southeast Asian country.
41. Thus unless health or economic crises force action among the country’s senior generals, the sufferings of the people look set to continue in a national landscape that is becoming more sadly divisive by the year.
42. Last year’s gloomy assessment has not changed for the better. The Burmese education system continues to deteriorate, and students seek education abroad in increasing numbers, both legally and illegally. We see more applications from grants coming from students within Burma despite the barring of our website as well as greater demand from exiled or refugee students. While geography means that most applications from India are Chins or Kachins, and the majority from Thailand are Karens, we see many from all ethnic groups. As noted previously, many families go to extraordinary financial lengths to give their children further education abroad even to selling the family home to finance university fees and living expenses abroad. The proceeds rarely suffice to finance a whole university course.
43. Fundraising is a highly competitive activity, and it would be complacent to believe that last year’s improvement will continue. With falls in the stock market in late summer 2007, and rising interest rates, economic conditions are less favourable. Nevertheless, our committed Partners and other supporters provide a continuing cash flow and with the Development officer’s hard work, we are optimistic that we can maintain at least the present level of funding. A longstanding American supporter, Jack Ringer (who has a special interest in the Chins) has offered to fund the services of a fundraiser in the USA. We are following up this generous offer. We have believed for some time that there is great potential for our cause across the Atlantic, and we trust that we can put some suitable arrangements in place.
Martin Morland CMG Patricia Herbert
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