On This Day

The Day Myanmar’s Socialist Govt Nationalized Missionary and Private Schools

By Wei Yan Aung 1 April 2020

YANGON—On this day in 1965, the Union Revolutionary Council (URC) of the military regime led by dictator General Ne Win nationalized 129 private schools including Christian mission schools such as St. Paul’s and St John’s.

The move was part of the URC’s socialist economic program and its xenophobic attempt to reduce external influence on the country.

Among the schools nationalized on April 1, 1965 were missionary schools, registered private schools, tuition schools, mother tongue-based schools and special schools. The following year, the military regime nationalized 685 private schools.

Students were thus faced with a Hobson’s choice, as state schools became the only option in the education system of the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP). Over the years, cuts to the education budget by the BSPP government, coupled with its mismanagement, inevitably saw national educational standards fall, eventually costing Myanmar its reputation as the best-educated nation in Southeast Asia.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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