Category Archives: Education

Myanmar military govt announces reopening of schools from June 1, but teachers, students continue protests

File photo: Myanmar military chief

According to Kyodo News, a number of teachers and others engaged in education have joined the so-called civil disobedience movement to boycott work, as a protest against the junta.

Myanmar’s military government announced it will reopen public schools on June 1 but many teachers and students opposed to the coup might refuse to return. According to Kyodo News, a number of teachers and others engaged in education have joined the so-called civil disobedience movement to boycott work, as a protest against the junta. But the junta called on them to return to work and prepare for the reopening of the schools as it announced the restart on April 30. The junta also said it will dismiss those who do not follow the call, maintaining its hard-line stance against protesters since the coup.
On February 1, the Myanmar military overthrew the civilian government and declared a year-long state of emergency. The coup triggered mass protests and was met by deadly violence. At a press conference in the capital Naypyitaw, junta spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun said it will reopen public elementary schools, junior high schools and high schools on June 1, adding it has resumed classes of public graduate schools and the final year of public universities on May 5.
“It is a sad thing that some instigators and extremist political activists are campaigning for the students not to go back to the schools and are trying to stop reopening of the schools,” Zaw Min Tun said. The academic year in Myanmar starts on June 1. But public schools in the country have been closed for more than a year since the ousted government led by detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi had decided not to open the schools in June last year as the country saw a surge in the coronavirus infections, Kyodo News reported.
It further reported that, while the junta plans to reopen public schools amid efforts at normalizing the country, some 10,000 teachers and others engaged in education, which account for 60 percent of the total, are refusing to go back, according to teachers’ unions in the country. One teacher said he does not mind losing his job by boycotting work from June 1.
“I will keep on joining the civil disobedience movement until we win against the junta,” said teacher. A female junior high school student expressed anger toward the junta, saying, “How can we go to school under the military government that has killed hundreds of people and continued firing (at protesters)?”
The junta’s security forces have killed 788 people as of Saturday since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights group monitoring the situation in Myanmar.


Thousands suspended at Myanmar universities as junta targets education

Anti-coup protesters flash the three-finger salute and chant slogan during the demonstration against the military coup in the rain at Pabedan township in Yangon, Myanmar, Friday, April 30, 2021. (AP Photo)

The suspensions come as the resumption of universities after a year closed due to the coronavirus epidemic prompts a new confrontation between the army and the staff and students who are calling for boycotts over the Feb. 1 coup.

More than 11,000 academics and other university staff opposed to Myanmar’s ruling junta have been suspended after going on strike in protest against military rule, a teachers’ group told Reuters.

“I feel upset to give up a job that I adored so much, but I feel proud to stand against injustice,” said one 37-year-old university rector, who gave her name only as Thandar for fear of reprisals.

“My department summoned me today. I’m not going. We shouldn’t follow the orders of the military council.”A professor on a fellowship in the United States said she was told she would have to declare opposition to the strikes or lose her job. Her university authorities had told her every scholar would be tracked down and forced to choose, she told Reuters.

As of Monday, more than 11,100 academic and other staff had been suspended from colleges and universities offering degrees, an official of the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation told Reuters, declining to be identified for fear of reprisals.Reuters was not immediately able to ascertain exactly what proportion of total staff that figure represents. Myanmar had more than 26,000 teachers in universities and other tertiary education institutions in 2018, according to the most recent World Bank data.

Students and teachers were at the forefront of opposition during nearly half a century of military rule and have been prominent in the protests since the army detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and halted a decade of tentative democratic reforms.

Many teachers, like medics and other government workers, have stopped work as part of a civil disobedience movement that has paralysed Myanmar. As protests flared after the coup, security forces occupied campuses in the biggest city, Yangon, and elsewhere.A spokesman for the junta did not respond to phone calls seeking comment on the suspensions.

The junta-controlled Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said teachers and students should cooperate to get the education system started again.

“Political opportunists do not wish to see such development by committing sabotage acts,” it said.

BOYCOTTSIt was not clear to what extent the 11,000 staff suspensions would hamper efforts to reopen colleges but many students are also boycotting classes.

At the public West Yangon Technological University, the student’s union published a list of 180 staff who had been suspended to hail them as heroes.

“I don’t feel sad to miss school,” said 22-year-old Hnin, a student of the Yangon University of Education. “There’s nothing to lose from missing the junta’s education.

“Zaw Wai Soe, education minister in a rival National Unity Government set up underground by opponents of the junta, said he was touched that students had told him they would only return “when the revolution prevails”.

Doubts have also been raised over the return to school of younger students, with institutions now taking registrations for the start of a new year. There are nearly 10 million school students in the country of 53 million.

Protesters daubed “We don’t want to be educated in military slavery” at the entrance of a school in the southern town of Mawlamyine last week, a phrase that has been echoed at demonstrations across Myanmar by students.

“We’ll go to school only when Grandmother Suu is released,” read a banner of students in the northern town of Hpakant at the weekend, referring to detained leader Suu Kyi. “Free all students at once,” said another sign.

Many students are among at least 780 people killed by security forces and the 3,800 in detention, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group.

At least 47 teachers are also among the detainees while arrest warrants have been issued for some 150 teachers on charges of incitement.

Myanmar’s education system was already one of the poorest in the region – and ranked 92 of 93 countries in a global survey last year.

Even under the leadership of Suu Kyi, who had championed education, spending was below 2% of gross domestic product. That was one of the lowest rates in the world, according to World Bank figures.

Students could have little expectation of progress in Myanmar this year, said Saw Kapi, a founding director of the Salween Institute for Public Policy think tank.

“When it comes to education, I would suggest that instead of thinking about getting a bachelor’s degree, you must go to the University of Life with a major in revolution,” he wrote on social media. “You can go for a Masters or PhD later.”


Sex education in schools sparks debate over morality

A school textbook exploring the fictional lives of adolescents and sexually active couples has caused a real-world storm. Conservative politicians and monks argue that sex education undermines Burmese culture.

A new school textbook, which features a fictional same-sex couple and young students who find themselves attracted to the opposite sex, has sparked outrage in Myanmar.

The opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), Buddhist monks and conservative parents protested the distribution of the book, calling it immoral and a threat to Burmese culture.

The critics demand that the Ministry of Education revise the book’s content, including the country’s Grade 10 “life skills” course curriculum, which includes optional sex education.

In May, the USDP issued a statement arguing that sex education demoralizes Myanmar society and that the LGBT couple featured in the textbook would make students more accepting of same-sex relationships.

“It would not be okay if same-sex case studies are in the textbook as it hasn’t been culturally accepted in our country,” Maung Thynn, a retired Mandalay University rector from Meikhtila Township and a USDP member of parliament, told DW.

While Myanmar has opened up more to the LGBT+ community in recent years, same-sex relations are illegal under a British colonial-era law known as Section 377, which makes same sex punishable with up to 10 years in prison. Human rights groups have said the colonial legislation, although rarely enforced, has systematized homophobia and discrimination in Myanmar.

The subject of sex is still considered a taboo topic in the largely conservative Buddhist-majority country.

“It should be ok if doctors are sharing sex education information with students, but not the teachers. It would be awkward if teachers are teaching it to their students because [it is insensitive to] Myanmar culture,” Thynn said. “We don’t even dare to use the word “condom” in front of our parents and teachers,” he added.

The USDP member’s request to reject the new curriculum content has been rejected by parliament. The education ministry, however, said it would consider revising the life skills curriculum by altering the language used in the course.

For Yin Yin Hnoung, a 26-year-old doctor in Mandalay, the debate “started with the translation of the term ‘sex education’ into the Myanmar language.” He explained that the literal translation of the term made many people think the topic was “all about having sex.”

“Since then, they don’t want to accept sex education as a textbook topic. They consider the term sex education rude in Burmese society and culture,” Hnoung told DW. 

Lack of awareness about reproductive health

Young people make up more than half of Myanmar’s population, with ages 5-14 years compromising the largest age bracket.

According to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Myanmar, many young people in the country still have a limited understanding of sexual and reproductive health. Myanmar also has one of Asia’s highest rates of adult HIV.

“Many young girls don’t even know about their individual reproductive health,” Thazin Myint, 21, a recent Yangon University graduate, told DW. Myint, a member of the University Muslim Students Network, said that many people belonging to Myanmar’s minority communities are unaware about sexual and reproductive health.

“Elders are not even willing to talk about it [sexual health] in their family in the Muslim community here,” she said.

Thuta Kyaw, a 20-year-old university student at Yangon’s Dagon University and a student union member, told DW thats his group allows young people to gain health awareness as “the university curriculum does not offer an even sex education.” Some teachers choose to exclude sex education in their life skills teachings.

Possible political motives

Sex education has been a controversial subject in the Southeast Asian country for decades. The topic was first introduced in 1998 as part of a UNICEF-supported extracurricular program along with information on HIV, nutrition, and hygiene. In 2016, the government integrated sex education into the life skills subject in schools.

“Those lessons have been in the curriculum for a long time, but only this time they receive criticism. The criticism may be political,” said U Ko Lay Win, the director general of Myanmar’s education ministry.

Win told DW that the recent criticism could be an attempt by the opposition parties to turn the public against Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy party as Myanmar heads to the general election in November.

Nevertheless, “we will revise the words and case studies that received criticism from the people who do not like the lessons,” he said.


Education official: Students will go back to school almost two months late with social distancing in classrooms

Grade 11 students leave their exam rooms in Mandalay in March (Photo Yan Moe Naing/Myanmar Now)

High schools will be the first to go back followed by middle and primary schools if all goes well, says education official

Public schools across Myanmar will begin the new academic year with strict social distancing starting in late July, nearly two months later than usual, an education ministry official said on Thursday.

Myanmar’s 40,000 public schools accommodate nearly 9m students and over 400,000 teachers, according to official figures.

The outbreak of Covid-19 did not disrupt classes because when the government banned large gatherings in mid-March, exams were already over.

Myanmar’s academic year ends in late February and schools are usually closed from March until a new term begins in the first week of June.

The government will open high schools first on July 21, and middle schools two weeks later. Primary schools are then set to open a week after that if everything goes smoothly, said Tin Maung Win, deputy director general of the Department of Basic Education.

His department was given the school reopening dates by Myanmar’s national anti-Covid-19 committee, led by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

And social distancing guidelines for students and teachers will be announced soon, the official said. Some big schools will split students into two groups that will alternate their classes every other week.

Than Htoo, a father of two school-aged children living in Naypyitaw, said he welcomed the plan.

“This plan isn’t bad, that’s how it should be,” he told Myanmar Now.

Ko San, a driver who also lives in the capital and has two daughters, said he is concerned that his youngest will go back to school later than her sister because she’s at primary school.

The authorities also will delay the announcement of the previous year’s exam results up to Grade 10 by a month until June 13. Grade 11 matriculation exam results will even be delayed further, with the date not yet set.

More than 6,000 public schools across the country are being used as quarantine facilities for potential Covid-19 patients.

The government has ordered local departments to return the schools to the education ministry by June 15. Before the return, the facilities will be disinfected.


Myanmar extends closure of preschools till May 15

A pre-school employee plays games together with the students in Yangon. Photo: The Myanmar Times

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement on May 1 extended by another two weeks the closure of all preschools and nurseries across the country to protect children from COVID-19, a senior official said.

Daw San San Aye, director general of Department of Social Welfare, said all voluntary preschools, private pre schools, private residential nurseries are ordered to remain close until May 15.

The ministry’s original closure order covered the period from March 16 to April 30.

“The extension of the closure is to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak as the disease can spread in mass gatherings,” Daw San San Aye told The Myanmar Times. “The children and the elderly are high risk persons who are more susceptible to infection.”

“We will inform them when preschools and nurseries should reopen,” she added.

Records from the Department of Social Welfare showed there are 137 preschools and one residential nursery operated by the department.

Myanmar has reported 151 Corona positive cases and 6 deaths in the country till now. 28 people have recovered from the infection after the first COVID-19 case was confirmed on March 23. Till the end of April 7700 people have been tested for Corona in the country.

There are 1955 voluntary preschools, 944 private preschools, and eight private residential nurseries across the country, which are under the control and instructions of the department.

The government has not yet eased measures to fight COVID-19, including restrictions in movement and mass gatherings, even after preventing an outbreak of the disease during the just concluded Thingyan Festival, which is the most celebrated event in the country to usher the Myanmar New Year.

The Yangon regional government has released the announcement that an existing 10pm-4am curfew imposed in all 45 townships of Yangon Region will remain effective until June 18.

Likewise, Mandalay, the second most populous region in the country, as well as other states and regions such as Kayin, Chin, Sagaing, and Shan, have also imposed curfews within their territories.

The health ministry has kept in place the ban on gatherings of five and above imposed on April 16 following an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases.

So far, Myanmar has 151 COVID-19 cases with six deaths and 28 recoveries, according to the health ministry data.


Education System in Myanmar

  Education School/Level Grade From Grade To Age From Age To Years
Primary Elementary Education 1 5 6 11 5
Middle Intermediate School 6 9 12 16 4
Secondary Secondary Education 10 12 17 19 2
Tertiary Tertiary- Higher Education

Primary Education

In Myanmar once also known as Burma decades of political conflict have reduced a once-proud education system to one that is lagging sadly. The quality of school teachers may be excellent, however aging materials sadly let them down.

Following an optional pre-school period, children enter primary school for 5 compulsory years. To proceed further they must successfully write a comprehensive examination in basic academic subjects. Many disadvantaged ones in poorer areas simply fail to succeed.

Middle Education

The first phase of secondary education takes place at middle schools. where students pass through grades 6 to 8 before they write their standard eight examinations. The educational system is generally corrupt, with seats in better schools often reserved for children of those with government connections.

Secondary Education

High school students entering at grade 9 may choose either an arts or science stream. All study Myanmar, English and mathematics. Arts students also study geography, history and economics, while science students concentrate on chemistry, physics and biology instead. At the end of this period students at government schools may sit for their university entrance examinations. However those at private English schools may not.

Vocational Education

Vocational training, which is largely in the hands of the private sector has become popular among young people wanting to enter the hospitality, tourism, beauty, fashion, nursing or engineering sectors. It acts as a bridge to better jobs for those with little or no work experience.

Tertiary Education

Myanmar EducationMyanmar is well endowed with universities where the widest range of courses may be followed. However academic freedom remains constrained, and students may not speak freely, or write and publish freely either.

The oldest tertiary institution is Yangon (Rangoon) University founded in 1878. It has been at the center of civil discontent throughout its history. Notwithstanding this, women’s halls of residence are strictly limited which filters out many promising female students from the countryside.

Myanmar Youngsters Clamour for Languages Lessons

Foreign language study is booming in Myanmar as political change fuels young people’s hopes of opportunities at home and abroad of which their parents never dreamed. Myanmar’s linguistic spree is part of a broader re-emergence of a historic cosmopolitanism in a country at Asia’s heart that has seen millennia of immigration but was sealed off from the wider world. Some students are relishing the opportunities for study overseas that renewed international engagement is bringing, with many sanctions rolled back since the political transition began. Others are preparing for the world to come to them, as international excitement grows over the commercial prospects in a resource-rich country.

British Intl School Set to Open in Yangon

The British International School – a new international school, teaching to UK standards, will open its doors to students in August 2014. Located in Yangon- Insein Road near Inya Lake, the school will accept 100 to 150 students in its first year and is aimed primarily at the children of a large number of expatriates who have recently entered the country as it pursues its political and economic reforms. “For multi-national corporations, the shortage of high-quality international schools is already proving to be an important barrier to their investment in Myanmar. The school will follow the English national curriculum. The school will cater both to the expat community and to local residents seeking an international education for their children.



With the support of Ministry of Education, the ‘eLibrary Myanmar’ project will for the first time provide local academics and students online access to a comprehensive and multidisciplinary collection of scholarly resources. The project is funded by the Open Society Foundations’ Higher Education Support programme and is implemented by EIFL, an international not-for-profit organisation working with libraries around the world to enable sustainable access to digital information. Burmese academics and students will have direct access to a comprehensive range of high quality digital resources, including journals, books and reference materials. In order to maximize awareness and use among academics and students, the team will roll out a series of training so students will be equipped to make the best use of the available content. The project is to improve the quality of education and research, and in time social and economic development.

“Bringing iconic universities, such as the University of Yangon and the University of Mandalay, to life, will not only mean helping their communities gain access to the most current thinking, inspiring scholarship and novel resources,” said Oleksandr Shtokvych, Senior Manager at the Open Society Foundations’.

It will also mean including their students and scholars as active participants in the production of new knowledge and critical thinking, and bringing the unique and rich legacy and current developments in Myanmar into the limelight of international scholarship.