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Empowering Higher Education in Myanmar: A Vision for Myanmar’s Universities

Nay Pyi Taw, 3rd July 2013 – UNESCO, in partnership with the British Council, the Asian Development Bank, and AusAID organized high-level policy dialogue on the higher education sector reform in Nay Pyi Taw from 29-30 June 2013. The aim of the policy dialogue was to establish an agreed vision for higher education in Myanmar and promote international coordination among higher education stakeholders. The Deputy Union Minister of Education, Dr Myo Myint, the Parliament Higher Education Law Committee led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Higher Education Departmental officials from 13 Ministries, rectors from universities, academics, representatives from various civil society organisations, ethnic minority groups, political parties, ambassadors and development partners engaged in meaningful discussions on the way and means to achieve a modern, empowered higher education sector and accelerate reform.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Chair of Higher Education Law and Yangon University Revitalization Committees, and Members of Parliament, Dr Mya Oo, Dr Chan Nyein, Dr Maung Maung Wint, Dr Tin Hlaing

Dr Myo Myint stated that the government is committed to higher education development and that compared to 2012, the budget for education has been increased by 107%. The government sees investment in education as the most profitable for the people, and is committed to holistic education sector reform, giving priority to higher education, and following an inclusive and equitable approach, empowering people to make educated choices and take full advantage of the socio-economic benefits that Myanmar foresees.

Regarding the vision of higher education in Myanmar, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi emphasized on the need for the higher education sector to aim for complete autonomy, inclusiveness, a change in mind-set and a future, which Myanmar aims to build. Higher education legislation will aim for inclusivity, diversity and equity; through quality education people will learn to live together in peace, where ideas can be inculcated, mind-sets transformed, and innovation and creativity nurtured.

Distinguished international and national experts participated in the two-day event, covering a wide range of topics directly linked to higher education reform, including trends in global higher education, the role of tertiary and higher education, and lessons learnt from Asia Pacific countries’ experiences. Dr Libing Wang, Senior Programme Specialist in Higher Education UNESCO Bangkok gave a presentation on “Legislating Higher Education: Higher Education law in other countries and implications for Myanmar.” Professor Martin Hayden from AusAID and Mr Sardar Umar Alam, Head of Office UNESCO Myanmar presented the findings of the Rapid Assessment Report on Higher Education.

The Comprehensive Education Sector Review (CESR), which UNESCO is contributing to through CapEFA Myanmar, has completed its initial assessment of national education and is now embarking on the detailed review. Meanwhile, the National Network for Education Reform, led by the National League for Democracy, has carried out its own consultation and is making policy recommendations, and two parliamentary committees are drafting higher education legislation and planning the revitalization of Yangon University. ‘Empowering Higher Education’ conference brought these initiatives together in order to deepen the consultation and develop consensus among stakeholders on the priorities of education reform. The outcomes of this meeting will help to inform policy and planning as Myanmar continues her extraordinary journey in education reform.

For additional information, please contact Mr Sardar Umar Alam, Head of Project Office UNESCO Myanmar, at