Stephen (of Greenflame) sent me the URL of an article by Terry Veling of the ACU School of Theology: “A Reflection on Karen Refugee Students on the Thai-Burma Border” it is an account of teaching Karen refugees a practical theology paper by distance learning, with a tutor who visited for three weeks. ACU are apparently offering courses by distance in the camps. The article was not only interesting for its insights into the plight of the Karen in and outside Burma, but also in modelling a different approach from that taken by the Kaw Thoo Lei Karen Baptist Bible School and College.
The ACU have opted to offer the best of Western theological teaching, and an Internationally recognised qualification, by distance in the camps, enriched by visits from tutors. KKBBSC seems to be a home-grown Karen initiative,
[9 Feb 08 – Following the helpful comment by Sam, below, I realise that I expressed what followed badly, I wrote: “taught (as I currently understand it) mainly by Nagas from NE India.” I should have written something like:]
the teaching provided by the Karen leaders of the college is supplemented (as I currently understand it) mainly by Nagas from NE India.
Since the Naga people have culture and history that is more similar to the Karen this is likely to lead to a more contextually appropriate theology, but it probably therefore lacks some of the rigour of Western education and gives a qualification that will not be as recognised if the student is resettled to a Western country.
Clearly there are advantages to both approaches. It will be interesting to compare them more when we have been to KKBBSC and also to reflect if there are ways we can assist Saw Simon and the others to achieve the best results without betraying their huge achievements!