Education Lags Because of Past Govts: Edu Minister

By Moe Moe 2 August 2019

NAYPYITAW—Myanmar’s education sector lags far behind others because of successive governments’ failures to invest in the country’s education system, Union Education Minister Dr. Myo Thein Gyi said on Wednesday.

“As investment wasn’t made in education for many years, [the education sector] lags behind. There are a lot of needs and difficulties,” he said during an Upper House session, in response to a question about current budgeting for new school buildings.

Though around 45,000 new school buildings are required for academic year 2018-19, the budget as granted is sufficient for just over 4,700, or around 10 percent of what is needed, the education minister said.

Chairman of the Lower House’s Educational Standards Promotion Committee Dr. Tin Aye told The Irrawaddy that State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has suggested that the education budget proposed by the Ministry of Education not be slashed, and that, if it must be, it should be done through thorough consideration and only when necessary.

“The State Counselor said that [the budget approved] must be [enough] to ensure quality education,” he said. “The ministry only spent 2.2 trillion kyats last year.”

Lower House lawmaker Dr. Maung Thin, of the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), called for the focus to be placed on improving the student-teacher ratio, rather than on school buildings.

“Without sufficient numbers of teachers, there is no guarantee of turning out educated children,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Education, there are nearly 88,000 teachers at the basic education level, with 87,000 more needed to reduce class sizes to an appropriate level. Meanwhile, around 46,000 new buildings are needed, with the greatest needs in the Ayeyawady Region, which requires over 6,800.

“I send my children to private schools, and it costs more [than sending them to public schools],” Daw Khin Swe Win, from Naypyitaw’s Zabuthiri Township, said. “We send them to private schools not because we’re well-off but because we believe education is the most important thing in their lives.”

As Myanmar implements international standards and a KG-12 basic education system, it is designing new curriculum for the primary-level with Japanese assistance, for the middle school level with Asian Development Bank assistance and for the high school level with EU assistance.

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