State coun­sel­lor: Ed­u­ca­tion must in­clude crit­i­cal think­ing, less rote mem­o­ri­sa­tion

The Myanmar Times - - News - PYAE THET PHYO pyae­thet­phyo@mm­

STATE Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi voiced her sup­port for ed­u­ca­tion re­form with a fo­cus on crit­i­cal think­ing over rote mem­o­ri­sa­tion at an Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­mo­tion Im­ple­men­ta­tion Com­mit­tee sem­i­nar in Nay Pyi Taw last week.

She did not, how­ever, sug­gest that ed­u­ca­tors should shift com­pletely away from mem­o­ri­sa­tion, not­ing that recol­lec­tion is a valu­able tool.

“But a good mem­ory is not enough,” she said on Au­gust 4. “One also needs to be ra­tio­nal. Mem­o­ris­ing is not crit­i­cal think­ing.”

Ev­ery­day chal­lenges faced by teach­ers need to be con­sid­ered in any re­form of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem be­cause the no­bil­ity of the pro­fes­sion alone does not put food on the ta­ble, she said, sug­gest­ing she sup­ports a pay rise for the na­tion’s teach­ers.

“They need to make enough money to eat, so it is not prac­ti­cal to tell them to sim­ply be ful­filled in their work,” the state coun­sel­lor said. “When look­ing to re­form the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, we must con­sider their salaries.”

She said that higher salaries would help lessen the fi­nan­cial bur­dens fac­ing teach­ers and in turn raise the cal­i­bre of those in the pro­fes­sion.

Women dom­i­nate the ranks of Myan­mar’s teach­ers, and the state coun­sel­lor said the im­bal­anced ra­tio must be evened out.

“I al­ways ask why there are fewer male teach­ers than fe­male teach­ers,” she said. “We need a slight re­form to the sys­tem. I be­lieve that hav­ing well­rounded up­per man­age­ment could greatly sup­port our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.”

One way to achieve a more even gen­der ra­tio, she said, is to con­vey to boys the no­bil­ity of the teach­ing pro­fes­sion, and to broadly com­mu­ni­cate the value of teach­ers.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi added that she wanted more money to flow to the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, and she en­cour­aged teach­ers to share their ex­pe­ri­ences.

“Shar­ing ex­pe­ri­ences is a kind of learn­ing,” she said. “De­bat­ing about dif­fer­ent opin­ions is also a kind of learn­ing.”

A stu­dent’s marks on his or her exam are not al­ways indica­tive of the suc­cess of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, the state coun­sel­lor noted.

“A teacher’s suc­cess can be gauged by how many students turn out to be good cit­i­zens for the coun­try and for the world,” she said.

Pres­i­dent U Htin Kyaw, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s hand-picked head of state, ear­lier this year pledged to fun­nel more money into the chron­i­cally un­der­funded ed­u­ca­tion bud­get, but a re­vised ap­pro­pri­a­tions bill sub­mit­ted to par­lia­ment last month did not in­clude a sig­nif­i­cant boost to ed­u­ca­tion spend­ing. The gov­ern­ment has said a new 5 per­cent tax on mo­bile phone use, ex­pected to gen­er­ate K7.5 bil­lion in rev­enues, will go to­ward ed­u­ca­tion. – Trans­la­tion by San Layy and Thiri Min Htun

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