New App Aims to Give Youth Civic Education

By Tin Htet Paing 21 June 2016

RANGOON — Burma’s first civic education mobile application, New Niti, will be included in a UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s ongoing educational project and will teach the country’s high school students about human rights and active citizenship.

The UNESCO project, which is part of a global initiative called “Connect To Learn,” provides training to teachers and education professionals on how to utilize information and communications technology (ICT) to improve learning outcomes.

According to its developer, the UK-based non-governmental organization OneWorld, UNESCO will make the app available in its ICT digital library, which is part of the “Empowering Women and Girls through Mobile Technology in Myanmar” project launched in June last year as a public-private partnership among UNESCO, Ericsson and the Ministry of Education.

The app was primarily developed in Burma and released in October 2015 in collaboration with a number of other local civil society groups and creative initiatives. The app’s goal is to educate the country’s youth populations on five main concepts—citizenship, democracy, elections, rule of law, and peace, OneWorld’s Burma-based project manager Angelika Kahlos told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.

The app “New Niti”—niti means “morality” in Sanskrit—runs on Android-operated smartphones but not on Apple’s iOS platform yet. The app features written and audio stories and animations as well as games and quizzes, all available in both Burmese and English.

Kahlos said the fundamental vision of the app is to promote active citizenship on the individual level while also improving access to information and education.

“This is the first time in Myanmar’s history that human rights and democracy content will be made available via a high-tech app in the government-run education system,” she said. “The endorsement of the New Niti app by UNESCO in Myanmar not only helps to promote access to information, but it also helps to promote modern technologies to teachers and the youth, who are quick to embrace and master them.”

According to the UNESCO website, the ICT project provides teachers with professional development training by producing English language and life skills mobile learning apps. It also creates content for mobile devices for 20,000 high school students.

The ICT project has already provided more than 3,000 tablets, some 180 laptops and projectors to the Ministry of Education, school leaders and teachers at 31 project schools in Mandalay Division, Pegu Division and Mon State. The New Niti app will be preloaded on the devices.

Curriculum developers for the app include the Center for Youth and Social Harmony, Kalyana Mitta Foundation, Mote Oo, Saitta Thukha Development Institute and other partners who created illustrations and dialogues. The application will be handed over to the Saitta Thukha Development Institute, a Burmese civic education training NGO that will further localize and develop the app.

The bilingual Android app can be downloaded here, and a smaller Burmese-language-only version can be accessed here.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include more information about UNESCO’s ICT project.