Minister ties improved education for ethnic minorities to peace
EDUCATION Minister U Myo Thein Gyi told lawmakers in the Amyotha Hluttaw yesterday that educational development in ethnic minority areas is directly linked to the success or failure of Myanmar’s peace process.
Efforts to expand ethnic language instruction, boost literacy rates and improve higher education opportunities in the country’s long-neglected frontier regions would hinge on the forging of a durable peace nationwide, he said.
The Union minister was speaking in response to a proposal put forward by former Amyotha Hluttaw Speaker U Khin Aung Myint (USDP; Mandalay 8) urging the government to enact a special plan to combat illiteracy among ethnic minorities and advance study of these groups’ literature.
Regarding curricula tailored toward minorities, U Myo Thein Gyi said the Ministry of Education plans to print and distribute learning materials in 54 ethnic languages for 540,289 students from grades 1, 2 and 3 across 187 townships.
His ministry earmarked more than K5.5 billion (US$4.53 million) for the salaries of 18,300 ethnic language instructors in the 2016-17 academic year. A less ambitious program spanning the 2013-14 to 2015-16 academic years saw 28 ethnic languages taught at a cost of about K6 billion for teacher salaries and instruction materials.
The Union minister added that the National Education Sector Plan 2016-2021 has been drawn up with a specific emphasis on supporting and improving instruction in ethnic languages, literature, culture, arts and traditions.
Toward that end, he noted a name change for the former Myanmar-language Department under the Education Ministry, which on August 7 was rechristened as the Department of Myanmar Ethnic Languages.
U Khin Aung Myint’s proposal was defeated yesterday, receiving more votes opposed than in favour.