(Yangon, 27.11.2014)When Telenor launched mobile services in Myanmar in September,
a unique branding concept appeared in local neighbourhoods around Mandalay and Yangon.
For a pilot period, the mobile company has created over 50 distinctive Telenor teashops,
which carry interior and exterior branding and serve as a Telenor point of sale
for SIM card and top-ups.
As the teashops in Myanmar traditionally have children who have entered the workforce
at a young age at the cost of continued education, Telenor decided that a proactive
step towards addressing underage labour in these branded teashops had to be taken.
Consequently, Telenor has drawn on the expertise, local insight and enthusiasm of
Myanmar Mobile Education project, myMe. Together the two companies will provide
non-formal education to children between the ages of 13-16 who work in the Telenor-branded
Petter Furberg, CEO of Telenor Myanmar, says: “We are very proud of our unique marketing
concept here in Myanmar. By being present in the social hubs were the local communities
gather for Sagarwine, we can increase our brand awareness and affiliation in the
mass market across the country. Early on in our branding exercise we identified
the prevalent issue of underage labour in these teashops. Telenor alone cannot change
this but we are pleased to have found a partner in myMe which is aligned with Telenor’s
values and that allows us to contribute towards providing education to these young
workers who for one reason or another have entered the workforce shortly after reaching
the legal age.”
Teashops are not a direct part of the supply chain, however, Telenor makes no exception
from following the ILO conventions for child labour, dictating a minimum of 18 years
of age for hazardous work, 15 years as minimum age and 13 years for light work,
so long as it neither threatens health and safety nor hinders education or vocational
training. In Myanmar, the law allows 13-year olds to enter the workforce.
Opportunity to scale up
myME’s mobile classroom ensures that teachers, quality education and study materials
are easily accessible to the young workers. Each child is offered six hours of lessons
The myME bus teaching children working in the Telenor-branded teashops
In addition to the opportunity to learn basic literacy, math and computer skills
in a safe environment, the young students will also be taught life skills such as
gaining self-confidence, developing analytical thinking skills through interactive
instruction, as well basic knowledge of personal hygiene and understanding of preventable
Telenor will provide connectivity to the mobile classrooms and technological solutions
to assist in increasing future vocational options, as this is the core business
area of the company.
Tim Aye-Hardy, the founder of myME, says: “The issue of underage labour in Myanmar
is quite complex and challenging, particularly as the practice is culturally accepted.
The myME Project alone cannot eradicate the issue but through our partnership with
Telenor and its support, we can together expand the existing program to enrol hundreds
of new students from various teashops around the country. We need more partners
and supporters like Telenor, whose own ethics and principles are comparable to ours,
to effectively address the issue of underage labour and access to quality education
for these children.”
During the project’s pilot phase, which started on 2 November, the plan is to enrol
over 200 children from the Telenor branded tea-shops. They will receive lessons
in 10 different teashops in Yangon and in six Mandalay teashops.
Students at the Sait Taing Kya teashop listening to myMe’s Tim Aye-Hardy
Furberg says: “Based on our experience in other countries, Telenor has been diligently
engaged in mitigating risk of underage labour in our supply chain both for the network
rollout and in our daily operations from day one of entering Myanmar. We want to
make a difference in the local society and working with myME to offer non-formal
education to the young teashop workers creates a platform for them to grow and develop
key skills. Our partnership enables a scaling up of the great work myME is already
carrying out in Myanmar and we are excited to play a role in driving social change
whilst also piloting responsible mass-market branding.”
Once the project expands, over 850 young workers will receive non-formal education
in the areas where Telenor has mobile coverage and branded outlets. This would include
youngsters from other surrounding communities who also want to join the lessons.
myME currently has 3 mobile classrooms which are old buses converted into a learning
environment. One mobile classroom, along with the teachers, volunteers, and study
materials, is capable of delivering lessons to 60 students at the same time: one
class being held inside the bus, one outside the bus, and one class inside the teashop.
Teashop owners who carry the Telenor branding or sell SIM cards are obliged to sign
a contractual agreement to commit to not hire workers under Myanmar’s legal employment
age and to provide young workers from 13-16 with access to non-formal education.
The contract also stipulates that random spot checks can be carried out to check
working and living conditions of the young employees. In return, the teashop owners
get a face-lift of their premises, workers with improved skills and ambition, and
option to add to income by becoming a Telenor sales outlet.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Ms. Hanne Knudsen
Head of Communications
(95) 9 254 389897, (95) 9 790 301 152
Soe Thu Tun
Mango Media for Telenor Myanmar
(95) 1 512 884, (95) 9 450 001 087