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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2526

Burma must invest its earnings in education sector

By – Zin Linn

Education opportunity is a basic necessity in Burma (Myanmar) in terms of equal right of entry in higher education. The large part of the population has been excluded from higher and tertiary education since the 1962 military coup d'état.

As Myanmar goes beyond the doorstep of socio-economic transformations, education must play a vital role in supporting comprehensive improvement and poverty alleviation. This will help Myanmar meet rapidly sprouting labor market demands, upgrading and equip the economy to bring up to date and initiate higher value-added sectors, and fruitfully enter regional and worldwide markets. Promotion of education is the same as making investment in the future.

There is a noteworthy speech spoken by President U Thein Sein as he accepted Honorary Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Technology Management by Bansomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University (BSRU) at the Credentials Hall of the Presidential Palace on 23 January 2013, in Nay-Pyi-Taw.

BSRU President Associate Prof Ponlasit Noochoochal and party paid a call on the President before the ceremony. The BSRU President expressed their wish to improve the people-to-people relations and inter-university cooperation.

According to Prof Ponlasit, Myanmar and Thailand are unavoidably encountering the new challenge as part of the region. President of Myanmar is one of the most influent leaders in ASEAN countries due to conducting the country’s political, economical and social reforms. Myanmar is properly appointed the worldwide significant positions, namely the host of the World Economic Forum on East Asia, the SEA Games in 2013, including the Chairman of ASEAN in 2014.

Dr Prayong Jutha, Chairman of BSRU Council, conferred the honorary degree on President U Thein Sein.
The President said in his words of thanks to the Chairman of the University of Council, Prof. Dr. Prayong Jutha for presenting him the Degree of Honorary Doctor of Philosophy in technology Management.

He said that he regarded the honorary degree as recognition for the efforts concerning the democratic transformation and the development of the State. He added that educational objectives of the State should meet the needs of national development guidelines.

The funding of education is a foundation for the nation’s future, he said, adding that the country is required to switch from mishandling of natural resources to a new technology-based economic system. He said that it’s necessary to face up to the people-centered reforms in favor of people’s benefits.

The capacity building is necessary in every sector of the country, he said. Moreover, U Thein Sein said the educational objectives of the State should meet the needs of national development guidelines.

Funding of education is foundation of investment for the nation’s future, he said. However it must go well with the new economic system of the State, he added. U Thein Sein remarkably said that the country is required to switch from mishandling of natural resources to a new technology-based economic system.

He also suggested that worldwide aid and experiences ought to be utilized for the purpose of educational development. He mentioned the country as a developing country which needed to escalate the education funds with the reason of poverty reduction, development of rural areas and development of the state economy.

Simultaneously, student-centered schooling has been introduced to reform basic education sector. By enacting the necessary law, his government has been striving for all children to complete primary education, he said.

Thein Sein mentioned the collaboration with BSRU that MoU between BSRU and Yangon National University of Arts and Culture under the Ministry of Culture was signed on December 6, 2010. BSRU has sent delegations of Thai students to the Yangon National University of Arts and Culture three times and the Yangon National University of Arts and Culture has sent Myanmar student delegations to BSRU twice in 2010.

Moreover, he said, discussions have been made to establish Centres of Excellence with cooperation between Yangon University and Johns Hopkins University in the United States, Mandalay University and Colonge University of Germany and Dagon University and Calcutta University in India. By doing so, youths will have the opportunity to exchange their experience and become well-educated youths, he said.

He also suggested that worldwide aid and experiences ought to be utilized for the purpose of educational development. Simultaneously, student-centered schooling has been introduced to reform the basic education sector. By enacting the necessary law, his government has been striving for all children to complete primary education, he said.

However, this request for foreign aid to boost education strikes a false note. Education sector of Myanmar needs more than just upgrading buildings, classrooms, and related physical infrastructure. Although government regularly earns several billion dollars from natural resources exports, but precious little is invested in education. Myanmar government spends almost all income from natural resources on a military renowned for waging war on the country’s ethnic minorities.

The Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental levels. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available to all and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. But, U Thein Sein seems to be ignorant of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the face of the challenges of centralization and bureaucratic inflexibility, Burma/Myanmar educational sectors draw attention to the importance of individual leadership, personality and free business enterprise. It is essential that compliance and capability of the ministerial executives to lead and implement the reforms. In general, there is a realization in favor of educational reform as Myanmar needs amending its outmoded educational system. Assistance for global information and realistic educational implementation is seriously needed at all levels of educational sections throughout the country.

President U Thein Sein should speak cautiously in public and he must take accountability of his words to be materialized. After saying to raise country's education standard, first thing he ought to do is to listen the advices of the respective professionals so as to increase the education budget reasonably. Yet, he may have little chance to obtain reasonable funds for education since he needs to bargain with the military spending.

- Asian Tribune -

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