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July 23, 2019

Roundtable on Revising the Basic Education Curriculum

High school students doing schoolwork with their classmates in the library. Photo:
High school students doing schoolwork with their classmates in the library. Photo:

“We have added individual, partner and group projects as part of the coursework”

Professor (Department Head) Dr. Poe Poe

(Continued from previous article appeared on 26 March)

The roundtable on revising the basic education curriculum for Myanmar part 1 and 2 was broadcasted by MRTV. The roundtable talk includes: Dr. Zaw Latt Htun, Deputy Director-General of the Education, Research, Planning and Training Department; Dr. Aung Myint Oo, Professor (Department Head) of Myanmar, University of Yangon; Dr. Poe Poe, Professor (Department Head) of English Language, University of Yangon; Dr. Cho Win, Professor (Department Head) of Mathematics, University of Yangon; U Aung Sithu Hlaing, Curriculum Committee Head of Fine Arts; Dr. Khin Mya Thet, Curriculum Committte Head of Physical Education.

Facilitator: Can you explain the six areas of learning?
Dr. Zaw Latt Htun: The six areas in the KG curriculum learning are: communication and language, physical development, personal, social and emotional development, literacy, mathematics, understanding the world and expressive arts and design. This is adopted and in line with the international KG curriculum standards.
The new system for KG is the real KG and is called kindergarten as per international standards as KG used to be called Grade-1 in the previous curriculum.

Facilitator: What about Grade-1, Grade-2? Can you help us understand a little bit about the terminology?
Dr. Zaw Latt Htun: In the previous system, the Grades are different in Myannmar and English. The Grade is one higher. For instance, we used to call kindergarten Grade 1 and first grade is Grade 2 and second grade is Grade 3 until the last grade (10th grade) called Grade-11. However, in this new system, Grades are the same. Kindergarten is KG, first grade is Grade-1, second grade is Grade 2 and the last grade is Grade-12.

Facilitator: So in the new system, primary education will be from Grade-1 to Grade-5?
Dr. Zaw Latt Htun: Yes, that is correct. Primary schools will have Grade-1 till Grade-5, Middle school will be from Grade-6 till Grade-9 and high school will be from Grade- 10 till Grade-12.

Facilitator: What kind of classes will be taught in primary school?
Dr. Zaw Latt Htun: In Primary school, there will be Burmese, English, Maths, Science, Social Skills, civic education, other skills needed for life, physical education, art (painting and music) and other local courses.
Facilitator: Since the course structure has changed for KG, Grade-1 and Grade-2, how have you prepared the different subjects for these Grades?
Dr. Aung Myint Oo: For Burmese, we had to revisit the previous curriculum to draw the new one. After reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of the previous textbooks, we decided to fill in the gaps. The previous textbooks have limited vocabulary and some are hard to use so students find it hard to study, especially ethnic children.
In drawing the new curriculum, we have put a lot of thought into overcoming these shortcomings. Teaching Burmese and English is quite similar. When we’re teaching Burmese, we have to be able to sing and read poems so that they are entertaining and enjoyable for students. If the students are happy in classes, they will be more comfortable using the language outside of the classroom.

Facilitator: What about for English?
Dr. Poe Poe: The difference between the previous and current curriculum is that now in KG, we ask teachers to incorporate activities with the English alphabets to familiarize the children with the language. When they get to Grade-1, we teach them the letters and vocabulary to get them started on speaking in English about their house, family, environment and other basics. As they progress to other grades, we try to teach them to be able to use the language and not just memorize words and vocabulary. We have added individual, partner and group projects as part of the coursework.
There is also a Teacher’s Guide with specific guidelines to help teachers navigate the new curriculum. In the guide, we have some explanations on teaching the words that the teachers might find difficult.
Additionally, there is also a listening aspect in addition to reading and writing. The Ministry of Education has distributed audio materials for listening classes to various schools. The audio files are also available for download on the Ministry of Education’s website in collaboration with JIC (CREATE) Project Team Website.
Facilitator: Thank you all for giving us your time and participating in this discussion.

(Translated by Myat Thu)



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