Northern Illinois University is ramping up for efforts to help rebuild the university system in Myanmar, also known as Burma. Schools there are trying to recover from decades of oppression.
NIU, which operates the only Center For Burma Studies in the U.S. has long had a connection to Myanmar.
But Chris McCord, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, says it has grown bigger over the past year-and-a-half, as relations with the country and the U.S. have thawed. He says that has allowed them greater access as Myanmar continues to emerge from decades of military rule.
McCord is one of eight faculty members to have visited Myanmar in recent months. He says a big problem right now is resources.
"The most striking thing for me was when I visited a university outside of Yangon. I was taken to visit a chemistry class. They were using plastic water bottles for their chemistry instruments," McCord said.
McCord adds that while they've made some progress, things remain painfully slow, especially since higher education there is divided among more than a dozen government ministries. He says they'll spend the next month or so evaluating recent trips to determine what their next steps will involve.