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Mapping education system reform in Myanmar

Photo: Kate Glazebrook.

“Building a modern developed nation through education” and “creat[ing] an education system that will generate a learning society capable of facing the challenges of the Knowledge Age” are the motto and vision respectively of Myanmar’s Ministry of Education.  Charged with these ambitious goals and in the midst of mounting development efforts in the country, the Ministry is endeavouring to reform the education system to improve access to and quality of learning across the country.  

Myanmar is looking to the international community for support on education sector planning and reform, and it was in this context that staff from UNESCO Bangkok’s Education Policy and Reform Unit met with Ministry staff in Nay Pyi Taw on 29 February 2012.  The meeting canvassed a wide range of education development issues and, in particular, how these are being addressed in different countries in the region.  Topics included: policy frameworks, governance and administration of education; lessons from experiences in sector reform; and how UNESCO can assist through capacity development and technical assistance in education policy, planning and management to support quality learning for all in Myanmar.

Systemic issues were a key topic: fuelled by the Government’s announcement in February 2012 that it will undertake a comprehensive education sector review.  The review, to be conducted in collaboration with relevant international development partners, will cover the education system as a whole, and will reflect that in the eyes of Myanmar’s Deputy Education Minister, U Ba Shwe: the “importance of education policy is to link and support national development plans and vision” (as reported in the Myanmar Times).  Preparation for the review is scheduled to commence this month, with some ideas were already flagged at February’s Development Policy Options conference organized by the UN Country Team in Myanmar.

Together with UNESCO colleagues in Myanmar, staff from the EPR Unit also discussed their experiences working with other Member States in the region in their processes of educational transformation.  They noted the range of policy and planning tools available to assist Governments in their deliberations, including education simulation modelling, data management systems for education (OpenEMIS), and assistance in drafting medium term education plans (MTEFs).

This is EPR’s latest mission to Myanmar which builds on UNESCO’s ongoing collaborative work in the country, including Myanmar’s last review of its education sector, completed in 1992, and policy support for development of basic and non-formal education, technical and vocational education and training.  It also comes at a time when UNESCO operations are further expanding in the country.  

UNESCO will continue to work in concert with the Government and other development partners to assist the country in this critical phase of education policy reform and development, working to ensure that these investments deliver quality education for all.

For further information please contact Ms Kate Glazebrook, EPR Unit: