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May 27, 2020

CAPACITY-BUILDING AND SELF-LEARNING

By Maung Hlaing (Sarpay Beikman)

In the 11 March issue of the Global New Light of Myanmar, I came across a news item entitled “Capacity-building course conducted for IPRD officers”. According to the news, the trainees will be taught the subjects on writing, mobile journalism, financial rules and accounting, official letter writing, media and information literacy, media laws and library knowledge at the three-week training course.
Such a training course is needed for raw hands or novices who have decided to devote themselves to their media career. And it is quite heartening to see them study media and information literacy, mobile journalism, media laws which were out of our reach when we were in the Ministry of Information.
It was in 1980 when I joined the Sarpay Beikman. Being raw hands, we were trained by the old hands who were well-versed in English and in the subjects they were handling. They relayed both their experiences and knowledge they gained to us through on-the-job training what we call ‘Capacity-Building Courses’ today. Sometimes, visiting scholars such as Sayagyi Maung Htin, Tet Toe, Mya Zin and Myanmar literati who were prominent in the literary field gave lectures on journalism. Thanks to their guidance, we never felt intellectually inferior in the field of media career.
Nowadays, it is very encouraging to see that many government departments are conducting the training courses on capacity-building. Most of them conduct English language courses, expertise courses and multiplier courses in succession as part of plans to enhance human resource development. The courses will help the trainees (service personnel) assess the past, present and future. On the other hand, trainees can have the opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences while attending the courses.
Having attended the courses, the trainees will be better imbued with a desire for improving the role they must play in various sectors. Capacity-building, indeed, contributes much to constant learning that paves the way for life long learning society. What I want to advise is that they should continue to resort to self-learning after acquiring knowledge from the capacity-building.

Graphic: BT
Graphic: BT

Regarding the self-learning, I read an interesting article ‘Self-learning’ by Lokethar that appeared in the Global New Light of Myanmar of 7 March 2020. In his article, the author said, “if one has a mobile phone, which almost everyone does these days, the knowledge and information one may require is” “at one’s fingertip” so to speak”. It is true.
Youths including service personnel are lucky enough to learn what they want to. Teenagers (even children) can take the initial step of learning computer because they are aware that in this age of worldwide education, computer is basic to everything they may acquire in the years ahead. Before even obtaining admission to institutions of higher learning, they can attend computer classes, English proficiency classes and other classes.
The 21st Century sees so many golden opportunities that we lacked in our school-days. Here, I would like to recount how I built capacity through self-learning.
When I was born in Wakema, a small town in the delta, in 1948, the insurgency was at its peak as the peace and stability did not prevail throughout the nation. In those days, going to school was just like a dream for the young. When I was five, I was sent to the monastery named ‘Tavatimsa’ where I could pursue monastic education. I still remember that my grandpa enrolled me, offering one pyi of rice, one 25-pya-coin, and a hand of bananas to the presiding monk as a token of recognizing the value of education and my enrolment.
In the morning, monks taught us Buddhist literature and school textbooks prescribed by the government. We used to follow the monks on their alms collecting rounds after learning Buddhist literature. In this way, I became a Phonegyi Kyaunthar or a resident student of the monastery.
I could begin to learn English when I passed the fourth standard. Although I was interested in learning of English, I had no chance of reading other English books except school text-books. In my middle and high school days, if I wanted to read English dailies, I had to go to the then Information Library (now Information and Public Relations Department) of our town. As my parents were struggling to make both ends meet, they could not afford to buy me even a small dictionary. Whenever I had difficulties in reading some English papers, I had to rush to my class-teacher and asked what I wanted to know.
When I matriculated, because I could not continue my university education, I joined the then Telecommunications Department (South Burma). Most of the service personnel were anglophiles and English was officially used. To be well assimilated socially into that community, I had to build capacity to outdo the others. My choice was ‘self-learning’.
I built capacity through self-learning. As there were no English proficiency classes or training courses that youths can see at every corner of the street today, I had to make friends with Indian booksellers who spoke English to have chats with them. With the help of them, I could read a lot of English books I could get hold of. Actually, my experiences of capacity-building were not better but bitter and rougher. I for one, self-learning was easier said than done.
As for youths of today, there is the motivation to ‘surf the Internet’ and explore areas of personal interest as well as to participate in activities with peers from around the world. Students can be encouraged to become more independent and take greater responsibility for their own beyond-class reading practice.
Only when we build capacity through self-learning, will we be able to bring about human resource development. Only when we bring about human resource development, will we be able to see all-round development in various fields.
Of all resources, human resource is the most valuable because it is the only prowess to serve humanity with the best possible means available.
Times have changed. We have found ourselves in the ‘Digital Age’ in which we are building a Constant learning Society. Today, with the help of the computer and Internet, it is encouraging that we are able to launch a new era of technology which will make us better equipped to reap the benefits in this field. In this age, constant learning, or Lifelong Learning is a ‘must’ that no one can ignore.
As for service personnel, they should not stay where they are. They have to train themselves through self-learning and capacity- building to build a dynamic society. Self-learning and capacity-building can create the uplift of the living standard or the quality of life of all concerned. The more the service personnel are equipped with capabilities in all spheres of human endeavours, the more successful they will be in what they strive to do.
We live to learn, or we learn to live. Choose whichever you fancy. But you cannot deny the fact that the more you spend your time in learning, the more it is beneficial to you and to the nation as
well.
Let’s build up our society anew through capacity building in parallel with self-learning!

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