State coun­sel­lor: Pay at­ten­tion to pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion

The Myanmar Times - - News - EI SHWE PHYU news­room@mm­times.com

PRI­MARY school teach­ers need to be more val­ued, State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said at an ed­u­ca­tion sem­i­nar in the cap­i­tal last week.

“I too care about pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said at the Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­mo­tion Im­ple­men­ta­tion Sem­i­nar. “But at the mo­ment, pri­mary school teach­ers are not be­ing val­ued when com­pared with those at the higher ed­u­ca­tion level.”

“In other coun­tries, pri­mary school teach­ers are paid higher salaries than high school teach­ers be­cause it is ac­cepted that teach­ing at the pri­mary level is the most dif­fi­cult and the most im­por­tant,” she added. “Like the say­ing goes, ‘A good be­gin­ning makes a good end­ing,’ pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion is very im­por­tant.”

Pri­mary school teach­ers are among the low­est paid in the state ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, but of­ten face the high­est stu­dent-to-teacher ra­tios, with class­rooms some­times as a large as 100 pupils.

The Na­tional League for Democ­racy (NLD) has pledged to re­form Myan­mar’s di­lap­i­dated and long un­der-funded pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, and has promised to pro­vide uni­ver­sal free ed­u­ca­tion. How­ever, ed­u­ca­tion re­form pro­po­nents are con­fronted with a minis­cule bud­get – K1501 bil­lion, or 7.03 per­cent of to­tal spend­ing as al­lo­cated by the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion’s bud­get.

The NLD-backed gov­ern­ment has yet to put a price tag on its an­tic­i­pated ed­u­ca­tion re­form agenda, which it has said will start at the pri­mary school level and in­volve cur­ricu­lum rewrites and teacher re­train­ing in or­der to move away from rote learn­ing.

At the July 21-22 sem­i­nar, ex­perts on pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion dis­cussed on­go­ing ed­u­ca­tion re­forms and projects for the pri­mary school sec­tor, in­clud­ing a new Grade 2 cur­ricu­lum in the works with in­put from ex­perts at the Ja­pan In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Agency (JICA).

Cur­rently, there are 9.2 mil­lion pri­mary stu­dents at­tend­ing gov­ern­ment, pri­vate, monas­tic and mo­bile schools.

Union Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion U Myo Thein Gyi said there is a high dropout rate among pri­mary stu­dents. To cre­ate more op­por­tu­ni­ties for chil­dren to gain ac­cess to schools and to pro­mote the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor, par­ent-teacher as­so­ci­a­tions and re­spec­tive min­istries need to work to­gether, he said.

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