Govt Scholarship Awardees Attend Farewell Ceremony in Rangoon

By Moe Myint 25 August 2015

RANGOON — A farewell ceremony for successful applicants to a government-backed study abroad program was held at the Sule Shangri-La hotel in Rangoon on Monday evening.

In July 2014, the Burmese government announced it would offer scholarships for outstanding students wishing to study undergraduate and postgraduate courses abroad.

Shwe Taung Group of companies, which has business interests in real estate, construction and engineering, is covering the airfare costs of the first batch of students selected for the program, called the President’s Scholarship Awards.

Thurein Zwe, a successful applicant who attended the gathering on Monday, said fellow awardees were drawn from across the country and were required to have at least an O-level standard of English—an internationally recognized qualification.

Forty-eight students were selected by the program’s board members.

According to a full-page announcement in state-run media last year, students of all ages were invited to apply for the program, with those holding an honor’s degree or postgraduate diploma able to apply for a master’s degree scholarship, and those with a master’s degree able to apply for a doctorate degree.

Students who receive a scholarship are obliged to work in government jobs after their return for twice the duration of their scholarship, or repay triple the amount they received for their scholarship, according to the announcement by the Ministry of Education on July 29 last year.

One originally successful candidate, Burmese model Zune Thinzar, had her invitation apparently rescinded after her inclusion sparked a storm of online criticism.

“I don’t know where the event took place,” she told The Irrawaddy regarding Monday night’s event. “I am still waiting on their consideration. [But] I think I was left off their list.”

Zune Thinzar also criticized the fact that successful applicants were forced to work in governmental positions upon their return to Burma.

Students will study abroad from December this year in countries including Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“After studying at international-standard schools, please come back to [Burma] to develop the country,” said Aike Tun, chairman of Shwe Taung Group, in a speech on Monday evening.