Education Ministry to Invest in Informal Education

By Htet Naing Zaw 8 July 2016

Under the new education policy of the National League for Democracy (NLD) government, the Ministry of Education will invest its efforts in informal education, a sector that was previously handled by civil society organizations.

“The education ministry has recently engaged in informal education because of the new government’s policy. For the time being, we are holding talks with stakeholders,” said Khine Mye, a ministry spokesperson.

An alternative education forum was held at Mingalar Thiri hotel in Naypyidaw on Wednesday. Attendees included education minister Myo Thein Gyi, departmental personnel, and civil society organizations currently engaged in providing alternative education to children who cannot afford formal education and children with disabilities.

The ministry spent over one billion kyat (about US$850,000) in the 2015-16 fiscal year, and plans to establish alternative and life-long education departments under its supervision, according to spokesperson Khine Mye, who also serves as director-general of the Education Research Bureau.

He added that the ministry implemented a plan in 2008 that enables dropouts who receive informal education to attend the appropriate grades when they return to school. So far, the approach has benefitted more than 60,000 dropouts.

“Our policy is to carry out a formal education program in parallel with an informal one that provides knowledge and expertise for nation-building,” Khine Mye said.

The education ministry began providing schooling to the children of Burmese migrant workers in Thailand’s Mae Sot earlier this year, where students in grades five through nine are permitted to sit for Burma’s nationwide exams. Last year, 100 children of Burmese migrant workers sat for the matriculation exams in Burma’s Myawaddy [across the border from Mae Sot] and 17 of them passed.

“There are migrant learning centers [in Mae Sot] funded by civil society organizations. There were previously 74 centers there but now there are 64. They teach a syllabus that aligns with Burma’s formal curriculum,” said Tin Nyunt, an education expert.

The NLD levied a 5 percent tax on all mobile calling and data charges beginning in April, and invested the revenue from April and May into the education sector. According to the Ministry of Finance and Planning, almost US$6 million was raised in April from the tax.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.