“Self-learning” is defined in the National Education Law of 2014 and it’s amendments, as “ learning to meet one’s own needs and interests and is undertaken by one’s self according to one’s own objectives”(translation by the writer). Of course, the traditional sources of “Self-learning” has been, and to a large extent still is, are the public/private libraries.
Nowadays, however, we have the “Internet.” If one has a mobile phone, which almost everyone does these days, the knowledge and information one may require is “at one’s fingertip” so to speak. Of course to get the required knowledge and information on the internet, one must know how to access it. Even if one knows how to access the internet one has to be able to read the learning resources in the language it is written. The most used language over the internet is the English language. Of course, there are other languages used such as Russian, Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish, Arabic and so on. Myanmar language is limited to the “websites” that use it and the learning resources are not wide-ranging as yet. So to access knowledge through the internet one would have to be able to read and understand English which the Myanmar people are familiar with due to their past links with the British Empire. The other reason is that the English language is even now being taught in the basic and higher education system from the basic level to the higher education level. In time, the Myanmar people will become conversant enough in the English language to access information over the internet in English.
One usually acquires an “ education” through learning what is taught in the formal education system from the age of say five years to around the mid-twenties, at the end of which one may acquire a Degree/Diploma/Certificate in whatever field of education one studies. After that one usually looks for wage employment or self-employment. As for wage employment, what the employers nowadays seek is not the qualification alone but also the knowledge and competence required for the job.
One must, therefore, start acquiring knowledge (general or specific of the job) even as one starts in employment. In this age of the internet, Self-learning is a mode of doing so. According to the information over the Internet “Self-learning is an emerging form of learning that has emerged due to the availability of learning resources online”. In the technical language of Education Theory it is, I believe, termed Auto-didacticism. In fact the older generation also needs to resort to self-learning to keep up with the ever-changing learning needs of this the Digital Age.
The advantages of self-learning are many. To summarise , Self- learning is:-
1. Highly motivational in that it springs from a desire to acquire knowledge.
2. Self-paced in that it is learning at the pace suited to the learner.
3. It’s affordable depending on the availability of the tools and internet access.
4. It’s problem solving directed in that the learner can access information that can help the learner to address specific problems.
5. Accessible among peer groups for on-line conferencing to exchange knowledge and views.
It would indeed be helpful if the Public Education and Training Institutions concerned could conduct Short Courses on accessing the Internet to help interested persons to train them on how to access the internet for Self-learning. In addition courses in the English language would be of help in accessing the internet. At the same time it would help “self learning” if the various Ministries and their Organisations could establish Websites in the Myanmar language for all kinds of knowledge and information related to their functions and activities. That way knowledge and information would be accessible to those who are not used as yet to the English language or any other foreign language for that matter.
With Charity to all and Malice to none.