Myanmar & COVID-19

Govt to Build Temporary Classrooms to Aid Social Distancing in Schools

By Thazin Hlaing 2 June 2020

YANGON—The Basic Education Department in the Education Ministry will build temporary classrooms at schools across the country as needed in order to satisfy social distancing requirements, according to U Ko Lay Win, department director-general.

“Suppose classrooms are needed urgently—we can call them temporary learning spaces. They will not be permanent buildings. They are temporary buildings built rapidly at low costs so that students can learn there,” said U Ko Lay Win.

All basic education schools, which include primary and secondary-level schools, will open in July but they will open in phases, with higher secondary level schools scheduled to open on July 21, according to the Education Ministry.

The ministry said that schools must practice safe distancing measures in classrooms, with students at least two meters apart—meaning a maximum of 20 students will be allowed in a classroom measuring 9 by 7 meters.

The Education Ministry has allocated a budget to build temporary classrooms at the request of schools from across the country, according to U Ko Lay Win.

Some in the education system have expressed doubts about the plan.

“Temporary learning spaces are not even necessary. Students from crowded schools can be reassigned to less crowded schools. Only some schools in suburban areas will need temporary learning spaces,” said retired teacher Daw Htay Htay Win.

There will be a total of 9.7 million students in basic education schools for the coming academic year, based on statistics from the 2019-20 academic year.

The ministry says it will provide free face shields and masks for students and teachers and will provide digital thermometers to schools for temperature screenings. It also says it will arrange washbasins in schools, as well as other preventative measures.

Myanmar has over 47,000 basic education schools (primary and secondary), around 2,500 private schools and some 1,500 monastic schools. There are over 400,000 teachers in public schools, nearly 15,000 in private schools and some 7,700 in monastic schools.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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