Education in Myanmar

Due to a variety of factors, the access to quality education in Myanmar is generally poor. Below are seven things everyone should know about education in Myanmar.

  1. The amount of money invested into education in Myanmar is low. Only 1.3 percent of the country’s GDP is allocated to education. This is lower than the average reported by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Myanmar now ranks 164th out of 168 by the U.N. Human Development Index for public spending on education.
  2. In the 1940s and 1950s, Myanmar had one of the highest literacy rates out of all of the countries in Asia. Compared to its counterparts, Myanmar was expected to be one of the fastest developing areas in the region. However, a lack of funding has since decreased the access to quality education in Myanmar.
  3. Students do not get to choose what they study. Even if students choose to pursue secondary education, they have little choice in terms of their area of study. Students will be assigned to study a subject based on their previous test scores, even if the area they are forced to go into does not provide many job opportunities.
  4. Education in Myanmar is only mandatory for five years. After the five required years, many students drop out of school due to family financial struggles. At 50 percent, the number of kids enrolled in secondary education in Myanmar is about half of the enrollment percentage of secondary school students in the United Kingdom.
  5. Politics play a significant role in access to quality education in Myanmar. After trying to pass an education bill proposed in 2014 – that would give citizens less autonomy over their education – many students protested against the government. Though their behavior might have had them arrested in the past, they were successful in getting the government to reconsider the education bill, which was passed in 2015.
  6. The Quality Basic Education Program (QBEP) and UNICEF are working to improve access to education for all children in Myanmar. The QBEP strives to provide quality education services to 34 areas in Myanmar. Of QBEP’s aims, one of them is to provide help to children and communities that are the most disadvantaged.
  7. Over recent years, investment in education has improved. In a span of only two years, from 2012 to 2014, public spending on education in Myanmar increased by 49 percent.

Though the investment in education in Myanmar has improved in recent years, there is still a lot of progress to be made within the country’s education system. Many organizations, such as QBEP and UNICEF, are taking steps in the right direction by working to provide better access to education for all children in Myanmar.

Haley Rogers

Photo: Flickr