“In drawing up a new curriculum, we are trying to include practical ways in which students can utilize the skills and knowledge learnt from the Myanmar Language course,”
- Professor Dr. Aung Myint Oo
The roundtable on revising the new basic education curriculum for Myanmar part 1 and 2 was broadcasted by MRTV. The roundtable talk includes: Dr. Zaw Latt Htun, Deputy Director-General of the Education, Research, Planning and Training Department; Dr. Aung Myint Oo, Professor (Department Head) of Myanmar, University of Yangon; Dr. Poe Poe, Professor (Department Head) of English Language, University of Yangon; Dr. Cho Win, Professor (Department Head) of Mathematics, University of Yangon; U Aung Sithu Hlaing, Curriculum Committee Head of Fine Arts; Dr. Khin Mya Thet, Curriculum Committte Head of Physical Education.
Facilitator: Can you explain to us about drawing the new basic educational curriculum?
Dr. Zaw Latt Htun: The Comprehensive Education Sector Review was completed for Myanmar in 2013 with help from both local and foreign experts, teachers, other stakeholders who were dedicated to improving the education sector of Myanmar.
The review brought light on several gaps in the system such as: a list of learning goals the respective subjects would achieve towards the end of each grade, ensure that such learning goals for the subjects are reflective of the children’s ages and learning abilities, the current time assigned (30-35 minutes) for kindergarten classes are not sufficient for learning and the need to include materials that will help high school students enter the workforce and/or vocational training schools. Hence, we have decided to revise our current education curriculum to raise its standards for providing the best quality basic education system we can.
Facilitator: Would you like us to share some insights about the new curriculum?
Dr. Zaw Latt Htun: According to Section 5, Paragraph 16(A) in the Myanmar National Education Law (2014), “Basic Education is divided into the following three levels, aiming to have 12 years of education after the completion of kindergarten,” we are targeting education from completion of kindergarten and the 12 years afterwards, also known as KG+12.
Facilitator: What are the main reasons behind changing the KG+12 education system?
Dr. Zaw Latt Htun: As we all are aware, our current education system focuses on Rote Learning which emphasizes memorization. Therefore, we are working towards including critical thinking along with other new standards in the curriculum and emphasize practical skills as well to match the needs of the 21st century workforce.
Facilitator: Can you also explain to us about drawing the curriculum for the different subjects?
Dr. Zaw Latt Htun: The Myanmar language can give you both practical skills and knowledge. We are working Myanmar towards redesigning the Myanmar language course so it will teach skills and knowledge that is applicable and used in a practical situation for the rest of the student’s life.
Facilitator: What are some skills the Myanmar language can teach?
Dr. Zaw Latt Htun: In the Myanmar Language course, we teach about the Myanmar language, the grammar and emphasize on Myanmar arts and literature. Literacy in another language is a skill itself. In Myanmar, we use the Myanmar language for the country so it is important to be able to speak, read and write the language. Hence, by teaching the language, we can help the youth become active members of society as they will be able to command the country’s language and participate in the country’s art and literature. We have plans to redesign the curriculum with these goals in mind.
Facilitator: What about the English language?
Dr. Poe Poe: There are three parts to changing to the new curriculum. Since the reason for teaching the English language has changed, the teaching methods have changed as well. This also affects the course. The first reason for redesigning is that the motive behind teaching the English language has changed. It used to be that English was taught so students can read and use reference books, and write in English. “As the world gets more connected and interactions increase with globalization, it is not enough to just be able to read and write basic English. We’d like to teach the language so it can be utilized in real life, in everyday interactions, which is why, we have decided to change the curriculum. “ Dr Poe Poe
Facilitator: Can you explain to us the difference between the old and the new curriculum?
Dr. Poe Poe: Because the overall objective has changed, the curriculum did as well. Now there is a need to not only teach reading and writing but also reading and hearing skills. The courses books have to reflect the student’s level of learning; something that was well practiced in the previous system as well. In the new coursework, we are redesigning it to match with the current trend and also the ones taught internationally. Hence, there have been the changes in the curriculum.
Facilitator: What about for math? Can you explain to us a little bit about that?
Dr. Choe Win: The reason we teach Mathematics for basic education is that math is very important in being the foundation for learning other subject materials, problem solving and to encourage a love for math in the hearts of the children through helping them solve real world problems. We are developing the courses to match the age and learning abilities of the students in the Primary, Middle School and High School levels.
Facilitator: So, there are other subjects such as Development included in the curriculum along with educational subjects. Can you explain to us a little bit about that as well?
Dr. Khin Mya Thet: In the previous curriculum, such subjects -including physical education- is contained as an additional course. In the new curriculum, they are considered main courses instead of supplementary ones. The reason we put physical education is so that students are aware of the multiple benefits of physical activity in their everyday lives, along with educating them about the general knowledge and problems that can be prevented by exercise. It also teaches students about team work and respecting one another for the development of the whole. As a result of this coursework, not only will the students improve their physical health, they also learn about teamwork which makes them better students overall.
Facilitator: What about the subject Fine Arts? Can you explain to us a little bit on that as well?
Dr. Aung Si Thu Hlaing: The arts, especially painting has been in the basic education system since 1963. After 1963, it has been considered as a supplemental subject as there wasn’t enough support for the materials and the teaching wasn’t as effective. There was also a lack of assessment and enforcement of rules as there wasn’t enough manpower to do field trips to school to check whether the schools actually taught the subject and how much the students have learned.
The reason for teaching arts is that it boosts the creativity, memory and innovation of students. It also boosts the general sense of responsibility and appreciation for beauty. As the Myanmar saying goes, a peaceful mind brings wealth and success. In order to build a well-rounded society, the arts provide tremendous support. Hence, teaching arts in the new national curriculum is very important.
Facilitator: Can you explain to us how the KG+12 education system is structured?
Dr. Zaw Latt Htun: KG+12 includes five grades in the primary education stage, four for middle school and three for high school. Hence, there is the name KG+12 (5+4+3). The main difference from the previous system is that in KG+12, KG is considered as kindergarten and is not included as primary education. The new system aims to help students become self-sufficient, happy, well-rounded in education and eager to learn and we have six areas of learning to work towards these goals.
TO BE CONTINUED