Myanmar revamps education system, ditches rote learning

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In what could be a role model for Thailand, Myanmar’s government in its new education roadmap running through 2021 plans to radically improve its education system on all levels – from kindergarten to university – by introducing new curriculums, child-centered learning and interactive classrooms instead of the rote-learning approach widely practised over the past decades of school neglect under former the junta regime.

The plan was presented by Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi as a result of three ears of research and consultations of all stakeholders involved, as well as considerable donor support.

She said the changes would be “extremely important to Myanmar’s social and economic development.” Many praised the plan as an important start for developing a modern education system in Myanmar, while UNICEF called its inauguration a “historic moment” for the country.

As an example, the new curriculum for grade 1 pupils, who are around six, will focus on a child-centered approach rather than by-heart learning, covering ten subjects, namely Burmese, English, mathematics, social, science, morality, civic responsibility, physical education, art and music and general knowledge. The plan seeks to extend basic education by two years to a total of 13 years.

While the old primary curriculum were a teacher-centered approach in which children learned the subjects by heart, the new curriculum would help pupils “promote their participation in learning the subjects and their own creation,” the education ministry explained.

However, it will be costly for the Myanmar government to launch the new education plan, with estimations saying that it will cost more than $2.1 billion a year to realise just 80 per cent of the proposed plan, up from $1.13 billion spent on education last year.

But this is still significantly below the education spending of Myanmar’s neighbour Thailand where an education system widely recognised as grossly inefficient and having one of the lowest student proficiencies worldwide absorbs more than $22 billion, or over 20 per cent of the country’s national budget, annually.

Myanmar, under British rule when it was known as Burma, used to have one of Asia’s best education systems until the military took power in 1962 and sharply reduced education spending. The junta also made rote learning the main learning style and it made huge cuts to higher education expenses to avoid the possibility of political student movements.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

In what could be a role model for Thailand, Myanmar’s government in its new education roadmap running through 2021 plans to radically improve its education system on all levels – from kindergarten to university – by introducing new curriculums, child-centered learning and interactive classrooms instead of the rote-learning approach widely practised over the past decades of school neglect under former the junta regime.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In what could be a role model for Thailand, Myanmar’s government in its new education roadmap running through 2021 plans to radically improve its education system on all levels – from kindergarten to university – by introducing new curriculums, child-centered learning and interactive classrooms instead of the rote-learning approach widely practised over the past decades of school neglect under former the junta regime.

The plan was presented by Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi as a result of three ears of research and consultations of all stakeholders involved, as well as considerable donor support.

She said the changes would be “extremely important to Myanmar’s social and economic development.” Many praised the plan as an important start for developing a modern education system in Myanmar, while UNICEF called its inauguration a “historic moment” for the country.

As an example, the new curriculum for grade 1 pupils, who are around six, will focus on a child-centered approach rather than by-heart learning, covering ten subjects, namely Burmese, English, mathematics, social, science, morality, civic responsibility, physical education, art and music and general knowledge. The plan seeks to extend basic education by two years to a total of 13 years.

While the old primary curriculum were a teacher-centered approach in which children learned the subjects by heart, the new curriculum would help pupils “promote their participation in learning the subjects and their own creation,” the education ministry explained.

However, it will be costly for the Myanmar government to launch the new education plan, with estimations saying that it will cost more than $2.1 billion a year to realise just 80 per cent of the proposed plan, up from $1.13 billion spent on education last year.

But this is still significantly below the education spending of Myanmar’s neighbour Thailand where an education system widely recognised as grossly inefficient and having one of the lowest student proficiencies worldwide absorbs more than $22 billion, or over 20 per cent of the country’s national budget, annually.

Myanmar, under British rule when it was known as Burma, used to have one of Asia’s best education systems until the military took power in 1962 and sharply reduced education spending. The junta also made rote learning the main learning style and it made huge cuts to higher education expenses to avoid the possibility of political student movements.

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