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Transforming Education in Myanmar’s Rural Schools through ICT
By admin April 12, 2017

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Photo by Ben White

 

Poverty in Myanmar is concentrated in rural areas, where livelihood is guaranteed by agriculture. Despite a decline in poverty from 2010 to 2015, according to a poverty analysis conducted by the World Bank, poverty still remains substantial. The country, and particularly its rural regions are recovering from the floods of 2015. Due to these economic factors, low levels of investment in the education system have prevented the achievement of basic primary education for many children, particularly in the rural parts of the country. In 2013, it was considered unlikely, by the National Millennium Development Goal Report, that Myanmar would achieve the SDG targets related to universal education.

Myanmar’s constitution does guaranty access to free and compulsory primary education to all children and its medium-term growth is currently projected to over 7 percent per year.

From 2012 to 2014, public spending on education had increased by 49 percent and the government has, since then, led a Comprehensive Education Sector Review (CESR) to understand what the current status of the education system is at a national level and to guide the implementation of effective policies and programs through a National Education Sector Plan (NESP). Among the various action plans, in 2015, UNESCO introduced Information and Communication Technically (ICT)-pedagogy integration in Myanmar classrooms.

Before the 2014 reforms in communication services that significantly lowered the prices of SIM cards, Myanmar was the third least penetrated mobile market in the world according to the GSM Association (the trade body that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide). This had an effect of significantly increasing the number of mobile phone subscribers and today, 84 percent of these subscribers are using smartphones, which is what enabled UNESCO and its partners to launch this ICT for Education project. This project has triggered initiatives to promote the use of ICT in teaching in rural schools.

Rural schools in Myanmar are just now discovering ICT. “When I teach the chapter about earthquakes, I can show videos to the students rather than merely newspaper clippings,” says Daw Ei Mon Aung, who teaches English in the Bago region of central Myanmar.

UNESCO and the Myanmar Department of Basic Education has trained over 150 teachers across 31 schools in the rural parts of Myanmar to use ICT in their work. In addition to adding sounds and images to the various courses, this project aims at fostering “digital citizenship” as ICT can better the quality of education in a country with a booming economy.

Indeed, considering various investment laws and income tax exemption reforms the government will be setting up, Myanmar has the potential to attract opportunities from foreign investors, particularly in the sectors of infrastructure, transport, and energy and UNESCO’s project aims at including children in rural areas of Myanmar in these opportunities.

 

Read More:

UNICEF: Education in Myanmar

UN: Transforming Myanmar rural schools with ICT

Eco-Business: Infrastructure resilience and ICT development in Southeast Asia

World Bank: Overview of Myanmar


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