Giving Myanmar Students a World-Class Education

Six years ago, when private schools were first allowed in Myanmar, Daw Khin Hnin Soe, co-founder of the Myanmar Metropolitan College (MMC), got the idea to bring international higher education to the country.

“The countries that are now ahead of Myanmar in education once used the international system,” she said.

Today, only private schools in Myanmar offer students international teaching methods. The education that is available to most Myanmar people totally differs from the international standard.

Myanmar’s average working class and middle class family can’t afford private schools, which cost K5 million to K10 million a year.

The average family needs scholarships offered by schools, work-study programmes, and student loans linked with banks to afford a quality education.

The free education system has prescribed criteria, she said. Seventy percent of students take advantage of education loans from banks with a variety of interest rates to finance their studies, she said.

Students at private schools have to apply for scholarships, study grants and study loans to access a quality education, as there are limits for their spending. Because of this, education institutions need to provide support, Daw Khin Hnin Soe said.

Scholarships that pay 30pc to 50pc of tuition costs can be applied for at Myanmar Metropolitan College, she said.

The college has campuses in Yangon and Mandalay, and accepts about 100 students per academic year.

Rather than teaching policies and theories, the school focuses on teaching skills to overcome problems at work, so it is really useful.

Social skills are also taught for students to fit into the corporate environment.

The education you receive must be practical, so she always meets with companies and changes the curriculum to meet workplace requirements, she said.
The college, which aims to elevate Myanmar society to the next level beyond higher education, agreed with Telenor Myanmar in 2014 to sponsor a scholarship programme for outstanding students to attain a four-year Master of Business Administration degree.

Also, an agreement was made with Daung Capital from Singapore in 2019 to provide scholarships and jobs, and with Brighter Future Myanmar Foundation (KBZ Group of Companies) to provide scholarships for the outstanding children of employees.

Daw Khin Hnin Soe was a teacher at Republic Polytechnic in Singapore before starting the college in 2014.

“It was OK for me to continue to live in Singapore, but I wanted to help my country, so I returned to Myanmar,” she said.

Although she has an engineering degree, she worked as a teacher at universities in Singapore and Chiang Mai, Thailand, and at schools for migrants, Thailand, because she was more passionate about teaching than engineering, she said.

She aims to cultivate young people to have the ability to initiate change, and entered the education sector in Myanmar with a goal to achieve international education standards.

However, it has not been possible to apply international teaching methods in Myanmar immediately. The college was founded because the country had many challenges trying to introduce this approach to education, she said.

“Setting up an institute of our own gave us the freedom to create a system and develop it as much as we can,” she said.

They faced a lot of challenges in the beginning, as Myanmar wasn’t familiar with private schools.

We aim very high and have had to struggle a lot to improve Myanmar education, she said.

As part of this, they have tried to change the public’s perception of education. To sustain private schools founded with private money, income and expenses must be in balance. As quality is purchased with money, she has faced many difficulties to get quality, fame and a reputation for her school.

The college is focused more on quality than on quantity, so they want to change the public’s attitude about the value of a good education. If this mindset becomes widespread, it can be taken for granted that they will succeed, she said.


Source: Myanmar Times

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