Roundtable discussions on Educational Reforms
Dr. Than Oo, Director-General (Retired)
By Nandar Win and Win Win Maw
Photo by Win Win
The Myanma Radio and Television broadcast a program in collaboration with the Department of Alternative Education (Non-formal Education and Lifelong Learning) on the role of teachers and additional recruitment of male teachers. The panelists are Dr. Than Oo, Director-General (Retired), Basic Education Department, Ministry of Education; U Ko Lay Win, Director-General (Duty), Basic Education Department, Ministry of Education; Dr. Aung Aung Min, Deputy Director-General, Higher Education Department, Ministry of Education; Dr. Win Aung and U Tun Hla, Members of National Educational Policy Commission; U Soe Tun Tun Naing, Principal, Basic Education Middle School number (9), Insein Township, Yangon Region; U Lin Lin Htaik, Senior Assistant Teacher, Basic Education High School number (4), Thingangyun Township, Yangon Region; Maung Arhman Htet, Fifth Year Student, Yangon University of Education.
Dr. Win Aung: In pragmatic approach, there are two ways that I could think about. The first approach and rule is to select and train the person before letting him in joining the teaching profession. The second method is to find ways and means to keep and maintain in the teaching profession.
Talking about the first approach, we need to change some existing regulations and persuade the male teachers by prescribing the minimum standard and norm of qualification at the entry point into University of Education and Educational Colleges. With minimum standard of rule, we could attract the male teachers.
Aim and objective
The second approach is related with the schools located at the border areas and remote locality, where the male teachers must be chosen among the persons of local residents from the same areas.
In many countries, the students who intend to join the University of Education and Educational Colleges are subsidized with educational aids or scholarships, and therefore, we should do the same incentive for male teachers in our country.
Nowadays in many countries, the recruitment of male teachers is carried out by the ministry of education through the marketing model similar to business enterprises. Meeting with the students at the matriculation classes of various schools, and persuades them in joining the University of Education or Educational Colleges for diploma, degree or post graduate course.
This is the pragmatic approach to be considered in recruiting male teachers. The second way is to keep and maintain the male teachers in the loop of teaching profession. We need to find ways and means seriously in keeping the male teachers in schools with the supervision of the Basic Education Department.
Generally speaking, it could be said that the number of female teachers is rising. In 2005-2006, we had submitted an educational report of Myanmar to UNESCO, and found that female teachers represented (86) per cent in the primary schools, and now it accounted for (83) per cent.
It reflected that the number and percentage of male teachers is in the upswing. Another factor is to find ways and means to attract the male teachers by observing them closely on yearly basis, and find the solution to keep them in the ring.
Supervision and directive
The second factor is on the ways and means that many countries adopted, which is observing closely to the male teachers. The solution is in assigning the superior person and senior teacher to take care, support and assist the new male teachers at the school. Such approach and supervision is in progress being implemented by the Ministry of Education in cooperation with the World Bank, it is generally with the aim and intention to cover all the male and female teachers.
If the approach could be concentrated mainly with focus over the male teachers in the watch and support system, it would be much beneficial. In short, the most important factor is to make reform as have repeatedly discussed, on the prescription of minimum standard and norm for the male teachers. This should be included in the reform without fail so as to attract and persuade the male teachers, and also keep them in the educational sphere.
Moderator: Please tell us the strategy in attracting the teachers.
Dr. Aung Aung Min: There are two approaches in pre-service training such as the Pre-Service Primary Teachers Training (PPTT) and the Diploma In Teacher Education (DTEd) accommodating both male teachers and female teachers without discrimination in the selection.
However, when the number of male applications is less, then we have to fill up with female applications. In the selection, we offer first priority to the males of local residents hailing from the area.
The second salient point is educational stipend, and at the moment we are providing MMK thirty thousands to each student along with the permission for stay at the hostel. Therefore, when a student passed the Matriculation Examination, he could joined the Educational College or the University of Education enjoying MMK thirty thousands in addition to stay at the hostel, and the job is waiting for him.
Priority for local male residents
Job opportunities are not certain after graduation from the arts and science universities and even the civil medical universities have no job guarantees after schooling.
However, educational colleges have full guarantees for jobs and stipends during educational stints. In our pre-service training, we could persuade and win over them by providing more amount of stipend, and offering priority to local residents of the area.
With the aim and objective as enticement to remain in the locality during their teaching career, we negotiate and cooperate with the local governments and other local self-administered divisions and self-administered zones by offering concessions to the proposed students.
Some students are local residents, born there and raised there and passed the Matriculation Examinations there. Unfortunately, they could not catch up the marks required. When the local authorities made official request to accept the students, then we are making concession five to ten per cent in accepting the local residents.
When they joined the teaching profession, we have main difficulty in providing appropriate and adequate salary to the teachers, and we could not accommodate them with housing.
We learned that (85) per cent of the whole budget of the Ministry of Education is incurred for the main salary of the teachers and educational expenses. The remaining (15) per cent of budget is meant for construction and other miscellaneous expenses.
Since (85) per cent of the budget is covered only for salary, there is no separate budget allocation for housing for the teachers. Therefore, the teachers themselves have to rely of their own for accommodations.
The salary of the teachers is not enough and therefore, the household head find it difficult to live a decent life, and when the predicament is too deep, the male teacher quit the job of teaching.
If the current difficult situation could be reversed and made improvement by providing housing facilities, especially in Yangon, then we would be able to recruit more male teachers.
Such adequate facilities should be considered by the Basic Education Department and the Higher Education Department. As the drafting of the Teacher Competency Standard Framework (TCSF) had already completed, the teachers are expected to receive adequate salary and decent position in the future, and therefore, more male teachers are expected to join the teaching career.
Moderator: We heard that when the share of male students is not adequate, then the female students are filled in. Are there any option and other way out just to fill in with the males?
Dr. Aung Aung Min: We could do that. It was due to the fact that we are just considering on the basis of the township in the selection. If we consider to the extent of the whole country, we can recruit more male students.
When we need males students for arts major for Yangon Region, we could get them ether from Ayeyawaddy Region or from Bago Region. We have (25) educational colleges in the whole of the country, and we allowed them to attend at any college.
We have to think about the quota system being allocated originally to the regions, and that it is not to reduce their initial benefits by transferring part of quota to other region.
For example, if a student from Ayeyawaddy Region is being filled up in Yangon Region, he might want to go back to his local area Ayeyawaddy Region after two to three years. When we called the applications, we need to mention that one must be in a position to attend at any of the educational colleges, and also binding them to have the ability in working as Primary Assistant Teacher for three to five years term at any school in the country.
Moderator: Please tell us on the current situation on the scarcity of male teachers, and its possible solution.
Dr. Than Oo: I am of the view that we have plan and also decided in providing quality education and also life-long learning education. It is quite simple as the quality education could only be provided by the quality teachers, and therefore, we are required in gathering quality teachers by all means. We must go for it with seriousness, and by disseminating the message with full cause.
I have been in the teaching profession for many years and would remain in this domain for the rest of my life. We need to organize and loop in the teachers with benevolence and hobby.
At this juncture, our people from education domain must make field visits to the basic education schools, and then raise awareness and understanding about the esteemed, noble and valuable life of teachers whom we revered in the top echelon of social and cultural sphere.
All these prominence, valued and treasured qualities of the teachers are to be imparted to the students at the basic education schools and the universities. In recruiting and gathering the new teachers with hobby and kindness, this sort of activity is needed.
If someone asked me what is my most noble aspiration, then I would say that I do not want to be a director-general but to shoulder task as a Professor. I am now (91) years old and still teaching, and would like to stay that way until I die.
I am desirous to spread this as the best example to other teachers. The teachers serving at different levels must be extended with opportunities to be happy in their professions. We will convey the plan to the Public Service Commission (The Union Civil Service Board). Sayar Gyi U Pe Maung Tin and Sayar Zaw Gyi can be said to be outstanding teachers who displayed great benevolence and sacrifice, and pursued hobbies with interest; and, our nation has many such teachers: Dr. Than Oo, Director-General (Retired). We need to pass this information to the teachers so that they may emulate and follow as good professionals.
(To be continued)
Translated by UMT (Ahlon)