Education programme in Myanmar
In recent years, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has introduced a wide range of reforms to improve access to quality basic education, including:
- establishing a national school grants and stipends programme to shift the burden of school costs away from parents and to help selected at-risk students stay in school;
- raising teacher wages, recruiting and training contract teachers to address gaps in supply;
- revising the legal and policy framework to underpin basic education reform; and
- providing salary subsidies to monks in the monastic school system, which meets the needs of some of Myanmar's poorest children, and is mostly funded by voluntary donations.
Despite these initial achievements, the basic education system continues to face major challenges, in particular surrounding access to school, learner retention and inclusion, and outcome quality.
Access to education
With poverty being a crucial factor affecting access to basic education, more efforts are needed to enable students living in remote and rural areas to enrol in primary and middle schools. Additional resources are needed to ensure children with disabilites, and children from migrant families, are equally able to access education.
A national school quality improvement strategy is needed to focus attention on measuring and addressing standards in teaching, school management and school facilities. Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) need to be empowered and strengthened in all schools, so they can actively monitor the achievement of quality standards and support improved student learning.
Drop-out rates are high during the transitions from primary to middle school and from middle to high school. The introduction of free basic education has already begun to address this, by reducing the costs to parents of their children's education.
Addressing the challenges
Major interventions are needed to transform the basic education system, to ensure all students can achieve quality learning outcomes. These include:
- All children should get a head start on their learning pathway, through quality pre-school and kindergarten education.
- All children should be able to access, progress through and successfully complete quality basic education.
- All children should develop knowledge, skills and competencies that are relevant to their lives and to Myanmar's socio-economic development needs.
- Teachers and education managers should implement a quality assessment system to improve learning outcomes.
- Teachers should support, develop and apply interactive classroom teaching and learning, to benefit all students.
- Students should have equitable access to quality learning and improved facilities, leading to better opportunities for employment.
- Education managers at all levels should apply evidence-based decision-making, and demand demanding accountability for improved teaching and learning in schools and educational institutions.
Current education reform efforts are committed to achieving these outcomes, and we are working to support these.
Our education projects
We are collaborating on a large British Council/DFID-funded education programme, English for Education College Trainers (EfECT). This programme trains the trainers of both primary and secondary school teachers, aiming to improve teaching and training skills while also enhancing English language proficiency. 23 VSO volunteer trainers work on the EfECT programme and to date more than 2000 Teacher Educators have taken part. Read Alice Redfearn’s account of her experience as a VSO volunteer training teacher educators in one of Myanmar’s Education Colleges.
We are working to mainstream inclusive education, so children with disabilities are represented and included.
We are also developing programming at township level, with a focus on areas with low school enrolment and retention, and transferring appropriate planning, coordination and management skills to key education officials.