Administration, Finance, & Educational Research
Recent changes and developments in the educational system in Myanmar, as in the case of other less developed countries, are described, explained, and projected in many divergent ways. Depending on the source of the description and assessment of changes in Myanmar's schools and colleges, there are widely varying pictures. The government-generated reports declare steady progress and lofty goals at all levels of education.
There are seven departments and many specially formed committees in charge of setting goals and employing appropriate strategies to achieve EFA (Education for All) and specific numerical targets. For instance, the Department of Basic Education is in charge of the primary, middle, and high school levels. The Department of Higher Education is responsible for colleges and universities. There are separate departments for technical, agricultural, and vocational education and official bodies for administering examinations, training teachers, and conducting educational research. There are various committees for formal and nonformal education at national and regional levels; these bodies have reported that more and more children have been completing primary and secondary education and that the degree programs have shortened their masters degree program from three to two years. It is also proposed that undergraduate programs be reduced from four to three years and that a semester system that continuously monitors the student's progress be introduced in place of the present system, which heavily relies on rote leaning and extremely competitive end-of-year final examinations.
The Medium of Instruction: Before 1991 all textbooks for basic education were in Burmese. Even in higher education, English was de-emphasized as a language of the Colonizers. Such nationalistic sentiments seemed to be replaced by more realistic objectives of mastering English as a universal language and being more compatible with scientific and technical education.
It is reported that all subjects except the Myanmar language and literature are taught in English at the high school and college levels. The texts and examinations, too, are written in English. There is some concern though, among Myanmar's leaders, that the English language may generate more liberal ways of thinking, as in the United States and Great Britain, and may create an atmosphere of democratic and egalitarian ways of thinking and acting.
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