- BY Khin Yadana
Ministry of Education is the ministry that is primarily conducting human resource development works. During the second year period for the people, with an aim of having more education opportunities and for students to acquire better quality education, the Ministry of Education is implementing works outlined in the National Education Law, National Education Amendment Law and National Education Strategic Plan 2016-2021.
Ministry of Education identified and designated nine sectors to implement the National Education Strategic Plan aims and 12 priority works were set. Following is the interview with Union Minister for Education Dr. Myo Thein Gyi on works conducted for the people by the ministry during the second year period.
Q. Please tell about the aim of the ministry and the policy matters.
A. Ministry of Education has formed a commission and committees for the national education sector development. According to National Education Law and with the consent of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw a 21-member National Education Policy Commission was formed in 28 September 2016, a National Curriculum Committee was formed in 9 November and a National Quality Assurance Assessment Committee was formed in January 2017. The Ministry of Education is training and producing good human resource who cooperates and work together, are dutiful and responsible, are capable of being inventive and entrepreneurial with a policies of no discrimination at all education level and at all school attending ages, no one is left out and no drop-out from schools.
Q. As part of educational transformation, what sort of changes is made at primary education? What was done at the basic education level?
A. Starting from the primary level, a KG+12 System was implemented. From academic year 2016-2017, all five years old children are attending KG and all six years old children are attending Grade-1. The teachings were in a new curriculum, new text books and new teachers guide books.
At the basic education level, with an aim of providing education opportunities, schools were upgraded based not only on the number of students but also based on distance. As such 3,320 schools and 5,100 schools were upgraded during academic years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 respectively. A total of 8,420 schools were upgraded during the two-year period.
All students were provided with a set of text books, six exercise books and a school uniform for free and compulsory primary education without any form of payment. To continue with middle and high school level education after acquiring primary education Ministry of Education is striving toward providing a set of text books and school enrolment without any payments during the enrolment week.
Q. What has the Ministry of Education done toward education for all?
A. With the cooperation of UNICEF and Kubota Company, educational supports like exercise books and school bags were provided to students with hearing and sight impairments.
In addition to scholarships provided to students who faces financial difficulties in acquiring an education, during academic year 2017-18, more students from far-off and distant places, students with hearing and sight impairments were able to attend schools as supports were provided. School development funds for basic education schools were provided, libraries established and repair, maintenance, extension and new construction were conducted for dangerous school building, school buildings damaged due to natural disasters and crowded school buildings.
Q. What has been done toward school curriculum?
A. Curriculum for primary level is being amended and raised with the cooperation of JICA. Training courses on new curriculum for KG in academic year 2016-2017 and for Grade-1 in academic year 2017-2018 were being conducted for teachers while textbooks and teachers’ guide book were being distributed free. Courses for teachers will be held in the 2018 summer school holidays to start a new curriculum for Grade-2 in academic year 2018-19. The Ministry is striving toward printing and free distribution of new curriculums to Grade-3 and Grade-6 during academic year 2019-2020.
Q. Explain about the ministry’s work on testing and assessment sector.
A. Teachers were being employed to have a good student-teacher ratio. Workshops to have an affective examination and assessment of the students at primary Grade-5 level and middle school Grade-9 level, workshops on rules and regulations for matriculation examination centre heads, joint and assistant heads and students sitting in the examination were being conducted annually.
Arrangements were made for handicaps students and students who are unable for various reason (temporarily hospitalized for health reason or serving prison sentence) to sit in examinations. More exam centres were being setup resulting in 0.84 million students sitting for matriculation examination in 2018 compared to 0.714 million in 2017.
To raise the level of education, arrangements are being made to change the matriculation exam questions into format that encourages thinking rather than rote-learning.
Q. Explain about arrangements made to teach in ethnic national languages.
A. Teaching in ethnic national languages is part of National Education Strategic Plan. It has been started in basic education schools. Under the arrangement of states/regions governments, Ministry of Education has conducted the free printing and distribution of 49 (text) books prepared by ethnic national language, literature and culture groups. 5,160 ethnic nationals who had attended up to Grade-10 were being appointed as Teaching Assistants in December 2017 in order to teach ethnic national languages in the primary school level.
Q. To raise the education level, how are the qualities of the teachers being raised?
A. Conferences on raising the basic education quality were held annually in Nay Pyi Taw. Much depends on the quality of the teacher in order to raise the education level. Due to the weakness in the promotion system for teachers, even though primary education is the corner stone of the entire education system, most primary teachers were being promoted to middle and high school teachers. In order to retain and prevent the reduction in numbers of qualified and experienced primary teachers, these teachers should be promoted and remains as primary teachers. Specialised subjects of middle and high school teachers should be the subject that they taught. Two-year education colleges are being upgraded to four-year education degree colleges and through all the above, more qualified teachers will exist in all level of the education sector resulting in a higher quality education that produces high quality students.
Q. What are the extra-curricular and life-long learning for those who are unable to continue formal education?
A. Arrangements were being made for those who are unable to continue formal education obtain life-long learning opportunities. A new department for extra-curricular and life-long learning, Department of Alternative Education, was formed under the Ministry of Education in August 2016. During education year 2017-18, an extra-curricular primary education was provided in 81 townships and a middle school level extra-curricular pilot school was established in one township providing education to 6,845 students.
Basic reading and writing courses for the elderly illiterates were being conducted and a total of 37,386 had become literate.
Q. What is the Ministry of Education doing for the development of technical and vocational skills?
A. To raise the social status of the people in the country, the education system should develop the technical and vocational skills of the people. As per the guidance and instruction of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, short term courses were being conducted by government technical colleges and government technical schools based on the requirements of the regions. Nyaungshwe Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) and Singapore-Myanmar Vocational Training Institute (SMVTI) were established and fourteen short term courses were being conducted.
Ministry of Education hosted the Regional TVET Conference 2017 on 13 and 14 June 2017. Furthermore, under a public-private cooperation, human resources development work committee meetings were held and conferences were being held five time in Yangon, Mandalay, Pathein, Magway and Lashio.
Q. What has been done by Ministry of Education on higher level education?
A. In the higher level education sector, during academic year 2017-18, there are a total of 176 universities and colleges of which 134 are under the management of Ministry of Education. There were 0.835 million students in academic year 2016-2017 which increases to 0.879 million students in academic year 2017-2018.
During the two-year period of the incumbent government, Taungup degree college was upgraded and Haka Education College were established.
Attempts are being made to raise the quality of the distant education.
Research is the main to raise the quality of the universities and colleges. Research paper reading sessions, talks and courses on local and foreign research papers were conducted for the teachers to raise their quality.
Q. How many teachers and students organisations were formed during the two-year period in the higher education sector?
A. In the 133 universities and colleges, 53 teachers organisations and 90 students unions were established.
Q. What are the arrangements made to raise the reading and learning levels of the teachers and the students?
A. Attempts are made to establish more libraries, conduct courses to raise the work capacity and conduct management courses in universities and colleges. Workshops and courses on subjects, English skill raising courses, ICT courses were being conducted.
Q. What is the future plan of the ministry on raising the quality of education?
A. There are many challenges to Ministry of Education in raising the education quality and reforming the education such as assisting those who are facing difficulties in acquiring education, fulfilling requirements in the regions, retaining students in school and reducing drop-outs, meeting the requirement for school rooms due to rising number of students, having a good student-teacher ratio, raising the quality of the teachers and curriculum, changing assessment and examination system, changing from rote-learning to active or meaningful learning, raising the ethnic nationals literature, history and culture etc.
Attempts are being made to raise the education level and for the education system to become sustainable according to National Education Strategic Plan. Reform in education will be divided into basic education, higher education, vocational and technical training sectors and implemented in cooperation with parents, guardians, the public, development partner organisations, Hluttaw representatives, states/regions government and related ministries.