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Education programme in Myanmar


Primary school children, Myanmar © Maro Verli

Primary school children, Myanmar

© Maro Verli

Education in Myanmar

Recent reforms

In recent years, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has undertaken a wide range of basic education reforms to improve access to quality basic education, including

  1. 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;
  2. raising teacher wages, recruiting and training contract teachers to address gaps in supply; and
  3. revising the legal and policy framework to underpin basic education reform.

Within the monastic education sub-sector, which relies predominantly on voluntary donations and which caters to the needs of some of the poorest children, the government has started to provide teacher salary subsidies.

However, despite such initial reform achievements, the basic education system continues to face major challenges, in particular school access, retention and inclusion, and the quality of learner outcomes.

The following are among the key challenges facing access to quality basic education in Myanmar:

  • 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.  Also,  additional  resources  are  needed  to  attract  children  with  disabilities  to schools  and  provide  education  services  to children from migrant families.
  • A national school quality improvement strategy is needed to focus attention on measuring and addressing teaching, school management and school facilities standards.
  • Increasing enrolment: this requires reduction in the costs borne by parents and is being addressed via the implementation of free basic education education.  Moreover, drop-out rates are high during the transition from primary to middle school and from middle to high school.
  • Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) need to be empowered and strengthened in all schools so that they can actively monitor the achievement of school quality standards and support improved student learning.

Hence, major interventions will be necessary in the coming years to transform the Myanmar basic education system, to ensure that all students may achieve quality learning outcomes. These include:

  • All  children  to get  a  head  start  on their  learning  pathway  through accessing  quality  pre-school  and kindergarten education.
  • All children enabled to access, progress through and successfully complete quality basic education.
  • All school children developing knowledge, skills and competencies that are relevant to their lives and to the socio-economic development needs of 21st century Myanmar.
  • Teachers and education managers implementing a quality assessment system to improve student learning achievement.
  • Teachers supporting, developing and applying interactive classroom teaching and learning benefiting all students.
  • Students having equitable access to quality learning and improved facilities, leading to better opportunities for employment.
  • Education  managers  at  all  levels  applying evidence-based  decision-making  and demanding  accountability  for  improved teaching  and  learning  in  schools  and educational institutions.

Current education reform efforts are committed to achieving such outcomes and VSO wishes to appropriately support these and related interventions.

VSO's education projects

VSO is co-implementing a large British Council/DFID funded education programme (EfECT) throughout Myanmar, in education universities and education colleges.

This programme trains the trainers of both primary and secondary school teachers. It aims 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 in the programme.

Mainstreaming inclusive education – so that children with disabilities and other disadvantaged children may be effectively included - is a VSO priority.

VSO is also developing programming at township level, focusing on areas with low school enrolment/retention, transferring appropriate planning, coordination and management skills to key education officials.

Read Alice Redfearn’s account of her experience as a VSO volunteer training teacher educators in one of Myanmar’s Education Colleges.