National Education System

The pre-second world war education system encouraged the youth of the country to pursue education which led to clerical and junior administrative positions in the civil service.  Technicians and skilled workers required the male to work in industrial establishments and were mainly brought in from India.  During the post-second world war, the Union of Myanmar found itself short of skilled workers, craftsmen, middle-level technicians and engineers.  This caused the education system to reform and a Technical Education system was begun in line with the social economic development pattern of the country, integrating it into the main education system.  But the 1950s, the Artisan Training Centres, a Technical Institute at Insein and a faculty of Engineering at the University of Rangoon were the only institutions under the Ministry of Education which were partially fulfilling the manpower needs of the country. Even then, teaching staff for the institutions had to be brought in from abroad on contract basis.  Since then, the Department of Technical, Agricultural and Vocational Education has been responsible for the training of middle-level technicians, skilled and semi-skilled manpower of the country.

Education in the Union of Myanmar is mainly under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education.  The educational policy is to provide basic education equated with livelihood and within the reach of all.  Science is given precedence in higher education especially for those who have promising potentials and who are industrious.  The literacy rate in 1992 was 80 per cent.

The educational structure is 5:4:2 with five years at the primary level, four years at the middle level and two years at the higher level.  Diversification into the technical, agricultural and vocational stream was made to provide basic education at all levels.  There are seven departments under the Ministry of Education. They are:

  1. Department of Basic Education which is responsible for general education at the primary, middle and high school levels, teacher training colleges and schools.
  2. Department of Higher Education which is responsible for universities and colleges.
  3. Department of Technical, Agricultural and Vocational Education which is responsible for technical training at the technical higher schools and institutes; agricultural training at agricultural schools and institutes.
  4. Myanmar Examination Board which administers all Government Examinations.
  5. Myanmar Education Research Bureau which is responsible for research related to teaching.
  6. Department of Myanmar Language Commission.
  7. Central Research Organization.

The Ministry of Education provides policy formulation and co-ordination through various councils formed under the Ministry.  In addition, funding is also the main responsibility of the Ministry of Education though a small measure of contributions which is usually done by the respective communities.

Education in Myanmar enjoys a favourable environment as the people have traditionally given education the highest priority in their lives.  Although monastic education played a major role in fostering basic literacy among people from all walks of life, it became less prominent under the British rule.  Recently, however, the monastic education has been revitalized and is expected to play a complementary role especially at the primary level. In addition, the post independence governments have always invested heavily in education, leading to more learning and comparatively higher literacy.

The most noteworthy step was the formation of the Myanmar Naing Ngan Education Committee in 1991 to co-ordinate educational policies and plans thereby enhancing the existing environment for education.

In recent years seminars, workshops, consultations, studies and research have been held to discuss ways and means for improving, strengthening and updating various levels of education in order to meet the needs of the changing economic and political situation.  The insights gained from such activities will be incorporated and integrated in the development plans for the education sector.  Thus, a blueprint for the education sector is being charted and formulated.  A notable milestone is the completion of the Education Sector Study which was undertaken by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with UNESCO and UNDP.  A number of projects which could be incorporated in development plans for the education sector have been identified and technically and economically appraised.  The state has continuously re-affirmed its commitment of according priority to education sector in its development plans.

Vocational and Technical Education

The Ministry of Education is primarily responsible for vocational and technical education of young persons, before or after completion of higher-level basic education.  The activities of the Department of Technical and Vocational Education are based on the 1974 Vocational and Technical Education Act and guided by the Vocational and Technical Education Committee of the Ministry. (1981 Yearbook of Vocational and Technical Training in Asia and the Pacific, ILO).

There are ten types of institutes under the DTAVE which offer three kinds of regular full time study courses. They are tertiary level, secondary level and short course.  The Government Technical Institute (GTI) and the State Agricultural Institute (SAI) offer Diploma-Level courses and the other eight institutions/schools offer the Certificate level courses.

DTAVE also offers part-time courses.  There are two types of part-time courses: the Evening Trade Classes of 5 months duration conducted three hours a day, five days a week; and the Engineering Technology Evening Classes (ETEC). The ETEC is a level between THS and GTI.  This course is intended for the employees of state organization (in technical position) who want to upgrade their theoretical knowledge in the respective engineering technologies. The course duration is three years at two hours per day, five days a week. There are other relevant training activities for countrywide application.  They are Mobile Vocational Training Team and skill-based Literacy Training programme to the people in the township.  The duration of training varies from one to three months.  The modular approach has been practiced since 1992.  For the Skill-based Literacy Training Programme with the technical assistance of UNICEF, DTAVE is planning to start this programme using the same modules of Mobile Vocational Training.  The modules also have Literacy and Facts for Life component incorporated in it.  By the end of June 1992, fourteen teachers' modules and seven learners' modules have been prepared and processed. The training is based in the respective institutions where facilities for skill training are readily accessible.

The training of technologists and professionals leading to a degree is undertaking by the universities and institutes which are under the Department of Higher Education.

The Structure Of Myanmar Education System

Reference from UNESCO's National Profiles in Technical and Vocational Education in Asia and the Pacific,1995