Parents in the dark regarding basic education reforms

To meet international standards, the new curriculum – focusing on requisites for the 21st century – was drawn up by local and foreign experts
Over the past five academic years, a noticeable change in Myanmar’s education sector – which was gradually undergoing transformation since 2010 – was the reformation of its basic education curricula.

Commencing in 2012, the Department of Myanmar Education Research Bureau, under the Ministry of Education (MoE), started writing the syllabus for the basic education sector. Later, in 2016-17 academic year, a new kindergarten curriculum was introduced, and the duration for schooling was increased to 13 years (KG+12) as well. Consequently, a new curriculum for Grade 1 students has been introduced as of this current academic year.

As a matter of fact, this is a huge change for the basic education sector. The curriculum that was drawn 30 years ago is out and educational reformation on par with international standards with a 13-year period of schooling is in.

The new curriculum which aims to develop five strengths essential for the 21st century – physical, intellectual, moral, amity and prosperity – was drawn up by local and foreign experts.

Despite all efforts to implement the educational reforms, parents and some teachers are kept in the dark and still lack knowledge about what’s going on.

“I’ve heard through some parents that the new curricula have been introduced as of this year. But I don’t have any idea of exactly how the curricula have been changed,” said Daw Nway Mar Myint Thaung, a student’s mother from Mingalar Taung Nyunt township in Yangon.

She said she doesn’t know that the duration of the schooling has been increased to 13 years for basic education.

“Teachers don’t tell us about it. If possible, I want to know clearly what changes have been made, because my child is also attending the basic education courses,” she added.

Likewise, a father of three children from Aye Myittar ward in Thanlyin township, Yangon, said he also doesn’t have any knowledge about the curricula change.

“I don’t know that new curricula have been introduced. Also, I do not have the time to study it carefully,” said U Myo Zaw.

He has two daughters, one in kindergarten and one in middle school; one other son is also in the middle school.

In the past, kids aged five could begin their schooling in Myanmar, whereas in other ASEAN countries, kids go to school only at age six. Accordingly, students in Myanmar used to have only 11 years of formal schooling.

“In our country, children pass the high school matriculation exam at the age of 16, so they are not up to par to attend foreign universities. If they wish to, they have to first study the foundation courses and this is a drawback for them. For example, when it comes to competing in the international Math Olympics, kids from our country always lose because international students completed 13 years of education while our students did only 11 years. That’s why we’ve increased the duration of schooling to meet international standards,” said Dr Khaing Myae, spokesperson for MoE.

Teacher Daw Moe Moe Thein, who is attending a training course on the new curriculum for Grade 1 students, said teachers themselves don’t know why the duration of schooling was extended.

“We don’t have any idea why the schooling years were increased because trainers didn’t tell us about it. But I think, it has been done on the grounds of improving the education sector,” she said.

According to National Education Law Chapter 5, section 16a, basic education is divided into three levels, namely, Primary Education, Middle School Education and High School Education. The government’s new curriculum prescribes that a student will have 12 years of education after their completion of kindergarten.

The National Education Law was ratified on September 30, 2014, with its amendments approved on June 25, 2015.

Changes to the new curriculum will be made in stages for students in the coming academic years – the curriculum for Grade 2 students in 2018-19 academic year, Grade 3 in 2019-20, Grade 4 in 2020-21, Grade 5 in 2021-22, and so forth.

Kindergarten curriculum was written with the help of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), while primary school education curricula were written with the assistance of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Middle and high school education curricula will be written with the support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Source : Myanmar Times