After gaining independence from British rule, the education system in Myanmar was a model of excellence in the Asia-Pacific. Many believed the country was heading the way of other Asian Tigers at the time. It did not. The protracted armed conflicts in the ethnic states of Myanmar since the 1950s have resulted in displacement and huge disruptions in education service delivery in these regions. During the 1960s, the education sector was turned upside-down. Not only was education severely underfunded, but also teaching became a job that lacked the satisfaction and prestige previously enjoyed, leading to the decline of the system as a whole. Given the years of isolation and academic suppression, the pedagogy of the public education system, including higher institutions at all levels, still relies heavily on rote memorization, and neglects proof of understanding or critical thinking, both of which are central to research training.
Ensuring that millions of young Myanmar students receive a quality, inclusive education that prepares them for 21st-century challenges requires immense reforms at all levels of the education system. The Ministry of Education has prioritized teacher education, recognizing the importance of improving the quality of teachers for raising the quality of education and student learning outcomes. The National Education Strategy Plan provided the government, education stakeholders and citizens with a ‘roadmap’ for sector-wide education reforms over the period ending in 2021 and a new strategy is in the making for the next decade (2021-2030).
The talk will discuss the different ways in which the Myanmar’s education sector could embrace and move forward in a democratic transformation under the new five-year administration. An open discussion will follow.