July 05, 2017

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There should be a clear set of priorities on how to increase education spending

By Dr Tha Sein
Just as education has become more like a business, higher prices have something to do with a better quality of education in the minds of too many parents. Most parents don’t want to compromise on education, but learning is virtually impossible without money.
Now, education is developing at a rapid pace with the steady emergence of more private schools which offer a clear path to the world’s top universities such as Cambridge, Oxford and Harvard. But enrolling in such a private school comes with a hefty price tag. The high cost of such a private school is one of the biggest challenges parents face, prompting more families to look to save money by moving their children to classes at more affordable schools.
Although the government maps out its plan for upcoming reforms across Myanmar, the benefits of changes to the education system will take many years to be felt. As good as it sounds, the plan was too ideal to be implemented because of lack of comprehensive research done on the matter.
One of the biggest flaws with the education systems is that policies are not well thought out and when it comes to their implementation, there are serious hurdles that make the fruition of the initiative extremely difficult.
One such case is that the Higher Education Department had produced a large number of PhD degree holders who are not as qualified as their counterparts who obtained the same degree from abroad.
The only option the HED has is to give up a programme on producing PhD scholars in number, which has been plagued with a series of scandals that have eroded public trust over the years. A large number of scholars have been unemployed since the introduction of the scheme.
Had it been well thought out, the HED would have taken responsibility and at the same time ensured the expertise of PhD scholars rather than just an increase in their number. While guaranteed jobs are principally wrong, the fact that the Ministry of Education initially implemented this is something that they have to own and solve. If all scholars are not getting jobs, maybe not all of them are capable and there has to be a solution for that.
More importantly, there should be a clear set of priorities on how to increase education spending in order to keep pace with changes and developments without holding opinions dogmatically. Only then will the promotion of higher education be possible.

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