The Exam Preparation Outreach Project (EPOP) is the flagship program of Thabyay E-learning Platform, and an initiative of the Thabyay Education Foundation. EPOP works primarily with community organizations in Southeast Asia to identify promising students who wish to attend university, but are not academically prepared with the level of education required. The program focuses on ethnic and linguistic minorities who live in remote areas of Myanmar, as well as students from Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos.
EPOP provides a web-based exam preparation program that assists up to 400 students per year. Students must demonstrate a dedicated commitment to continuing their education by participating in the program. Applications for EPOP participants are solicited by EPOP and their partner community organizations twice a year. Before beginning their EPOP studies, students set a goal for themselves for the college entrance exam score that they would like to achieve. Eventual success of the students in the program is measured by whether or not they achieve their desired score (not if they gain admittance to their chosen university).
The program is designed to be accessible to students in almost any location in Myanmar and Thailand, with study materials distributed via compact disc, online, and in print. The program uses an online student portal with tutors and practice exams, regional study groups, and even classroom-based tutorials in places where a significant number of students are enrolled in the program.
Learning in the EPOP program is self-directed and largely web-based. EPOP works with each student to design a course that fits his or her individual learning needs. Students work at their own pace to teach themselves material in the academic subjects in which they need support. Periodically throughout the EPOP program local community organizations distribute study materials and administer diagnostic tests. The only cost for the students participating in the program is a 20 USD fee which includes an official TOEFL ITP exam as well. For students living in refugee camps or in difficult financial conditions, the course fee, books and/or study materials are provided for free. Once students have demonstrated (in diagnostic tests) that they can score within the necessary range to achieve their goals, then EPOP will administer the official test.
In the future, EPOP would like to expand its network, offering accesspoints across Myanmar with physical hotspots that will be equiped with computers and mobile internet access in order to give students living in remote areas the opportunity to join the program. Access to the internet through mobile technology will be rolled out throughout Myanmar by two companies (Telenor and Oreedoo) in 2014. EPOP is eager to cooperate with these corporations in a long-term CSR partnership.
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20 week course, students unable to pay have their fees waived.
EPOP partners with community organizations that work in underpriveleged communities to announce its call for applications.
EPOP was launched in 2009 as an innovative initiative based on the CSO workers' needs in order to help them prepare to obtain the university entrance qualifications needed to take up studies at universities in Asia. The program is designed to be accessible to students in almost any location in Myanmar and Thailand, with study materials distributed via compact disc, online and in print.
The program uses an online student portal with tutors and practice exams, regional study groups and classroom-based tutorials in places where a significant number of students are enrolled in the program. EPOP has recently been upgraded to become one project within an e-Learning platform in readiness to meet opportunities to roll out new programs in tandem with the increasing access to the Internet.
From the experience of delivering on-line learning through EPOP, the program is in the position to develop Thabyay E-learning Platform to deliver a wide variety of online learning materials supported by the program's system and model. New targeted groups will be Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Myanmar using tablets as a news surface and device.
Monitoring & Evaluation
As a program offering online courses, EPOP has multiple internal tools to assess student performance as they progress through courses. Each course includes the following assessments: 10 vocabulary quizzes, 5 comprehensive review quizzes, 4 short writing assignments, 2 essays, 1 final exam, and 2 diagnostic tests (practice TOEFL exams).
TOEFL ITP Assessment (assesses listening, reading, structure, and written expression):
• 68 out of 130 students who were given an official test in 2014 scored 500 or higher (the minimum requirement for university entrance as of December 2014)
Until now more than 50% of EPOP's students received financial aid for books and course fee (2014).
Tools used to measure user satisfaction includes a questionnaire at the end of each course, end of semester surveys, and periodic polls and surveys done during the semester. The results of the end of the semester survey showed that the students' expectation as a useful course were rated 87%, while only 13% rated to be less useful. About 83% of respondents stated that EPOP course helped them to improve their English and only about 17% felt less help for their workplace and study. Respondents have found that learning as an EPOP online stundent to be a positive experience thus far (81%), while only 9% showed the netural with this (2014).
121 certificate were provided to students out of 223 active students in 2014.
Out of 373 enrolled students 223 were active; In total 121 passed the courses, while 102 participants failed (2014).
EPOP saw a 50% increase in enrollment in 2012. It is expected for enrollment to increase 50% again at the beginning of next semester, in September 2013. (5/2013)
As of 2014, unit cost per student is 150 USD including course books, course fee, diagnostic tests and TOEFL ITP exam.
Number of students who have received scholarships: 18
Universities where students have received scholarships: Asia Pacific International University, Chiang Mai University, Chulalongkorn University, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong University, Korean University, Mahidol University, Rangsit University, University of Philippines Losbanos.
Subjects students will study: Clinical Psychology, Development Studies, Environmental Studies, Health Social Science, Health Economics, International Journalism, International Relation and Development, Journalism, Organizational Development and Governance, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Psychology and Education, Public Policy, Social Sciences, Sociology.