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