I had the opportunity to speak to the Payap Myanmar Student Fellowship (PMSF) last night on educational issues in Myanmar.
I wore a traditional shirt I bought when I was in Myanmar in 2011 speaking at a few small private universities. The PMSF was joined by about 10 study abroad students who will be going to Myanmar next month. It was a great exchange of culture and excitement as Payap’s Burmese students were able to share their culture with the American students.
The picture of education in Myanmar is encouraging. While most are still uneducated and undereducated, there are a few hopeful pieces to the puzzle. For one, the country is becoming more hospitable in general so its most talented young minds are wanting to return and carry the torch of education and development in their country. Also, the current deputy minister of education is not from the military, which is reassuring considering the military’s systematic obstruction of education in Myanmar over the last 30 years.
Similar to Loas, Myanmar only has 10 years of primary education, which poses problems for attaining a competitive place in Southeast Asia amidst the ASEAN Economic Community set to be implemented at the beginning of 2016.
Next month I’ll be traveling to Mae Sot along the border of Thailand and Myanmar to lead a week-long teacher training workshop at the Teacher Preparation Center (TPC), which is a part of the Boston-based organization World Education. The TPC does a 10-month teacher training course for teachers in the migrant schools of Thailand. Usually, Burmese migrant teachers finish high school and are given a few weeks of training before they start teaching. The TPC gives them high quality training to hopefully bring about change through education for the thousands of migrant children along the Thai-Myanmar border. I’ll post more from Mae Sot when I return.
Here’s a picture of us talking about issues in Myanmar over a late dinner. It was reminiscent of the discussions had at tea shops in Myanmar. Burmese citizens are famous for discussing politics, education, and how to bring about change in their country over tea and cakes.