The Education Development Implementation Conference 2020 (Basic Education Sector) was held at Myanmar International Convention Centre -II (MICC-II) in Nay Pyi Taw at 10:00 am yesterday morning, and the State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi attended the ceremony and delivered the opening speech.
Present on the occasion were the Stockholm World Peace Award holder Sayadaw Dr Bhaddanta Sobhita and revered Sayadaws, the Union Ministers U Min Thu, Lt-Gen Yè Aung, U Soe Win, Dr Pe Myint, Dr Myo Thein Gyi, Dr Myint Htwe and Dr Win Myat Aye, the Chairman of the Nay Pyit Taw Council Dr Myo Aung, the Hluttaw Affairs Committee chairpersons, Deputy Minister for Education U Win Maw Tun, states/regions ministers, the National Education Policy Commission, the national Curriculum Committee, the National Education Standards and Quality Assurance Evaluation Committee, Chairman and officials of the Rectors Committee, Directors-General, Rectors, Deputy Directors General, states and region education officers, headmasters/mistresses of schools, paper presenters, representatives of development partner organizations, students associations, representatives of the private schools, and officials concerned, students and invited guests.
In her address to the Conference, the State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said: “A conference is an occasion in which solutions are sought for through the exchange of views, based on individual experiences, with reference to the individual knowledge and skills in respective disciplines. As regards top views, people’s views differ because their specializations, and experiences differ, resulting in the different interpretations and opinions. Hence, we must accept the fundamental concept that every individual carries a different view or concept.
But today these different views will be pooled, discussions will be held over the drawbacks and challenges in the sector of education, and the reforms to be made, and the best solutions will be sought for in the sector of the education of our country.
As regards to the reforms, two conditions may be taken into consideration. First, reviews may be made on the conditions in the past. Secondly, the reforms are to be introduced for the betterment of the future. Obviously, whatever system you have, it isn’t easy to launch the reforms. If reforms are on the way, those who are going to be involved in the process, and engaged in the tasks of the implementation must change their mind-set first. I have used the loan word “mind-set” because it’s hard to find its Myanmar equivalent. Of course, I never encourage the habit of code switching, sandwiching the English expressions while talking in Myanmar. I’d like all of you involved in the sector of education to keep this in mind. If you’re going to speak in Myanmar, I’d like you to use the Myanmar equivalents, if possible. If not possible, then use the loan words. You must be brave enough for this sort of change, and you must have tolerance to any outcomes, criticisms and challenges from this kind of change. Education teaches you in what areas to introduce the reforms and what not to do so.
In order to make reforms, we must be able exercise our wisdom and our rational thinking so that we can make the right decisions. Therefore, it is very important that our education system should be directed towards training the education and foresightedness of the young minds. Here, I’d like to draw your attention to the difference between education and foresightedness. As you all know, education can be learned while, from my point of view, foresightedness is the qualification that makes a base of education or learning and predict what issues could take place in the future and how to solve the issues.
According to the scholars, it is noted that education is the best thing to construct the world. To build a developed country, it depends on the knowledge and skills of the citizens, as well as on the development of the sector of education. Therefore, we must strongly build the system of quality education. For this purpose, we must review the present education system, teaching methods, educational management and administration and teachers’ qualities.
To launch such reforms, it isn’t easy for the government alone to perform the tasks successfully. I said, it isn’t easy, but it is completely out of the question to do so. It is of great importance for the people, and those involved in the sector of education to cooperate and collaborate. Today, it is heartening to observe that the development partner organizations have been collaborating with the Ministry of Education, investing their efforts and services in the sector of education. For this, I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to you. I hope you will keep on giving aid to us.
Now, by implementing the new education system of KG+12 in the sector of the Basic Education, we hope we will be able to equip our children with the 21st century skills as the good citizens of our country, and it is quite heartening. This reform of the new system will be completed by 2022-2023 academic year.
In the present, indicators and numerical are usually referred to as the yardsticks of the education system. But if you relay look at how a student has achieved, the recommended criteria should be how much a student can exercise his or her rational thinking, how he or she can get the issues solved through the exercise of his or her prudence. This type of assessment should be taken into consideration. It’s been a long time ago that the scholars have drawn the conclusion that this type of assessment really shows the educational standard. However, later, we have discovered that even in the countries given credit for having the best education, their education system is not in line with the needs and demands of the period. That’s why we need to make continuous reviews on the ongoing conditions.
Teachers are supposed to guide the students to learn not only the subject matters prescribed in the curriculum but also relate what they learn to what is there beyond the classroom. So teachers are required to train them about how to collect data, evaluate the data, find solutions and enter discussions, etc. So modern teaching methodology should be put into practice through Team Work, Group Work, Project Activities, Case Study Method, etc. The difference between the team work and the group work might be considered, too. From my point of view, team work is a group that is more definitely identified. You set up a team or a group and assign particular tasks to the members. On the other hand, a group work is a sort of operation in which all come together and work together. Here, there might be no specific tasks assigned. But you are there, working together. And project activities are the activities that involve the members to set out to a task or a mission. After a project, the members may break up. So it’s just for only one mission.
And in the Case Study Method, you make a close study of a case, and exercise your rational thinking for how to make an approach towards a case and how to tackle with it. Therefore, it is important to accomplish the tasks at every stage.
In building the human resource development, we must consider what kind of human resource must be developed. In this kind of mission, teacher is everything. What kind of qualifications should a teacher possess? For this purpose, what measures should be taken? These are the questions to consider before we start the implementation.
A teacher should do wide reading so as to develop their students’ ways of thinking. In fact, a teacher is a lifetime learner. Naturally, a teacher may engage himself or herself throughout his or her whole lifetime in learning and developing the academic quality, the pedagogy, English, and ICT Skills.
Teachers today should surf the websites and study the education systems of other countries and increase their knowledge so as to keep abreast with the times. For this purpose, the language skills will come into play. Therefore, I’d urge you all to keep on studying the international language or languages.
Today, the Ministry of Education is engaged in drawing “the Indicator Framework for continuous development of teachers’ quality based on equality”. It is hoped that teachers will have great opportunities for lifelong learning while their pedagogical qualities will be enhanced continuously.
Another point I’d like to go into details is equality. Equality is important for all human societies. So teachers, students, and all those involved in education services in the academic field must have access to equality while there must be equality for taking into consideration and fulfilling the needs and weaknesses of each individual.
As long as there exist discriminations, there will always be issues, and as a result, there will be no room for peace. (You know, in your homes, your schools, your offices, your surroundings, in this world), you need to reduce the situations where discriminations occur. If you have no equality, there will occur the issue of “being neglected”. So please note this: the factors for the outbreak of the conflicts include the factor of being neglected.
It is natural that all conflicts exist in the society. The ties of relations can also be more strongly established through negotiating and finding a solution to these conflicts, and as a result, better, and more peaceful conditions can be restored.
In learning and the learning process, all inclusiveness and equality are important factors. We should consider the fact that every child must have access to education, and that the factors of being neglected, gaps and inequalities must be taken into account. I am glad that the Ministry of Education is making every effort to successfully implement the goal of being all-inclusive, providing access to equality and quality education and the Sustainable Development Goal.
While we must build our state schools more and more strongly, we must not fail to give support to the development of the private schools. But I wish our parents may not adopt the attitude that only the private schools can provide the best education. Measures must be taken to narrow down the gap between the quality of the state schools and that of the private schools.
Because our government takes time and has to struggle for making progress, we have not as yet had a chance to spend the required educational budgets as much as it should be. But we are allotting the educational budgets as much as we can. You all know that the educational budgets have been on the increase from year to year. Yet there is still a need to spend the budget according to the regional and international indicators.
In the basic schools, stipends are offered to students while free education system is being implemented. So parents can reduce the expenses on the education of their children, thus enjoying the benefits of the free education system.
In developing the human resources, we need to train our students, our youths to be fit and strong so as to produce outstanding humans.
It is necessary to teach art and music and other aesthetic subjects so that love of peace will be inculcated in the mind of our students. Youths today are observed to be addicts to computer games or online games, which is no good for them. So teachers and parents should come together, discuss and give guidance.
We need to launch campaigns in universities and high schools, and hold educational talks on the prevention of narcotic drugs. The school libraries and the reading rooms should open the doors to our kids. There, we must provide books and literature that might be fit to their age level. Opportunities must be created for the students to participate themselves.
We need to teach our students how to protect themselves when a natural disaster breaks out. I’ve been informed that in order to enhance their morality, books under the Integrity Promotion Education Programme are now being distributed in basic education schools so that our students will be equipped with the ability of perceiving the Truth and dissolving the issues, and are expected to collaborate and participate in the Peace Education successfully.
Here, I would like to draw your attention to the issues. Of course, I always stress that an issue is not an issue. The issue is how to solve it right. If you do not apply the right way of solving a problem, we can’t solve any problems effectively in the long run. As the education standard goes high, the country will be developed, as in the saying, “A lotus looks more graceful as the water level rises”. So our personnel serving in the education sector must enjoy high standard.
So to make a success in the education sector, the physical and mental needs and weaknesses of our teachers must be considered. In order to improve the quality education, reviews should be made on the task programmes for each individual student’s access to the opportunity of learning, each individual teacher’s qualifications, and then quality educational services must be provided. Moreover, we have the main objectives of basic education, which are (1) to produce good citizens (2) to promote the good habits of collaboration (3) to train our children to value the responsibility and accountability (4) to enable the children to exercise their innovative ideas, which are to produce the new generations for the future of our country. In launching and implementing the educational reforms, parents and students and teachers and all those involved in education should make concerted efforts. If we can construct the quality education system, not only we ourselves but also others need to be engaged in continuous learning for self-development. Indeed, education is a thing to pass from generation to generation. So what we have learned, what we have experienced, what we would like to suggest will be exchanged. I’d urge you all to make the best contributions to leave a milestone in the paradigm shift called the education reforms in the Basic Education Sector.
In conclusion, I would stress that you may not enter discussions with the attitude that you are always right. In the case of discussions and negotiations, you may be wrong and they may also be right. With this attitude, we can make advance. So in your discussions, please open your mind, listen to their views. If views differ, why? Which views could serve for the betterment of our country? When you think about the issues, please take into consideration, not for one or two or three years to come, but for the younger generations of our country. We all must strive for the building of the country’s future.
Then followed the group photo session of the State Counsellor, the Union Ministers, the Nay Pyi Taw Council Chairman, authorities concerned, the National Education Policy Commission, the National Curriculum Committee, the National Education Standard and Quality Assurance Assessment Committee, the Chairman of the Rectors Committee and the authorities concerned, the Directors General, rectors, paper presenters, representatives of the development partner organizations. Then the State Counsellor, the Union Ministers, the Nay Pyi Taw Council Chairman and the authorities concerned inspected the Chemistry Booth and the Home Economic Booth under Yangon Region Education Officer’s Office, the ICT Booth and 360 ED for Education Booth under the Department of Basic Education and the New Curriculum Teaching Aid Booth under the Nay Pyi Taw Education Officer’s Office, the Innovative Educational Research Booth presented by the Yangon Education under the Department of Higher Education, the Booth of the Myanmar Examination Board Department, the Booth for the Guidance for building a Safe, Happy Kids Model School, the Booth of the Seven Prioritized Task programmes and the Booth of the Dangers of Smoking and Tobacco under the Ministry of Health and Sports, the Booth of Science and Recycle Art under the Mandalay Region Education Officer’s Office.—MNA (Translated by Dr Zaw Tun)