Japanese-style visualized books make studying fun in Myanmar

YANGON–First-grade children here are finding studying more fun with Japanese-style highly visualized textbooks replacing their word-packed, picture-scarce old ones.

The new textbooks have been adopted from the start of Myanmar’s new school year in June and are the first upgrade in about 20 years, thanks to a project spearheaded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

For a long time, Myanmar people had complained about their unattractive wordy textbooks and how difficult it was to remember the important points. With the books, the students will enter a new world packed with illustrations and charts.

JICA’s project, called “The Project for Curriculum Reform at Primary Level of Basic Education,” was launched when Thein Sein ruled, the former president who transformed the nation from a military administration to a civilian government.

It took two and a half years for educators in Japan and Myanmar to realize the plan, and the new textbooks are expected to trigger a change in the country’s dilapidated educational system.

In Myanmar during the military administration the education system was pretty simple–teachers explained matter-of-factly, and students just had to remember it all. In addition to the tedious textbooks, music and art were not taught.

Now, in addition to the five main subjects such as the Myanmar language, math and English, textbooks of music, art and physical education will be used for the first time.

Instruction manuals have also been printed for teachers to help them improve their tutoring skills.

School books for second-graders and older students are also set to be reformed soon.

Source : The Asahi Shimbun