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September 16, 2019

Education proposal in Hluttaw to narrow disparity in quality of education between urban and rural areas

To perform the major task of legislation, balancing power and representing the respective constituencies, the Pyithu Hluttaw MPs could successfully conclude the 12th regular session of Hluttaw on June 5 after it began on April 29. They raised queries and submitted proposals to make a balance between the legislative estate and other pillars. It was found that some acts of approvals and records through constructive debates among the Hluttaw representatives or the union level executives have substantial impacts on the respective sectors and the people.

Education queries and proposals
On the sixth-day meeting of 12th regular session, U Nyan Hein, Pyithu Hluttaw MP from Thanbyuzayat Township Constituency, submitted a proposal, saying that “The Union Government is urged to adopt and implement a policy to prioritize on local ethnic graduates in the recruitment process for basic primary teachers who are constantly required for the schools in the villages of ethnic areas”. Education issue was seen as one of the prioritized topics in every Hluttaw regular sessions. Out of 131 asterisk questions in this session, 18 queries were concerned with education; Out of 14 proposals, four of them were related with this topic. These questions and proposals have reflected the requirements, pubic voices and the highly interest of Hluttaw representatives in this issue.

Education and teacher’s value
Intelligence is an underlying need for everybody from birth to death. Education is of importance not only for an individual but also for the socio-economic development of a country. The role of teachers, similar to the education, was also spotlighted by an MP of Gwa Township Constituency in his supporting discussion. He defined ‘teacher’ as a person who is endowed with the capacities to manage in developing intelligence, knowledge, skills and opinions of the learners at a certain education level. Duty transfers for teachers and the needs of school children should be synchronized in rural schools, while teachers are willing to perform their duties regardless of places and times in accordance with their profession.

Challenges of teachers
On 15th day of the Hluttaw session, a Tatmadaw representative and other six MPs supported and urged to pass an education proposal as a move to inclusiveness of education for the children in far-flung areas in the education age of increased production through skill development. Quoting a report of Education Policy Commission that was submitted in Pyidaungsu Hluttaw’s 11th regular session, the MP discussed this proposal. The report discloses the existing problems at basic education schools in Yangon and Mandalay, proposes possible solutions to tackle these problems. The MP also suggested to do similar analysis at the rural schools in the situations of a wide gap in healthcare services between the urban and the rural areas. It is correct. People in ethic areas are experiencing different types of problems from their counterparts in urban areas. Some of the problems include language communication, the lack of teachers, accommodation for teachers in remote areas, funding and the establishment of mutual understanding between the parents and the teachers due to language barrier. These issues have large impacts on the education gap between the urban and the rural areas, local development and peace-building efforts.

Troubles for rural education
The MP specifically highlighted that the language barrier is one of the reasons the ethnic children stayed away from the classes as they do not understand the meanings of lessons written in unfamiliar language for them. Th MP also discussed some problems, including the completion rate of ethnic children primary education level, the gap in age and knowledge between the children of rural and urban areas, hiring unexperienced teachers by the parents to fill the vacancies of teachers and failing to meet teaching schedules on curriculum. The MP also urged to appoint local graduates for those schools, and they should be given training on Myanmar language course in school holidays, if necessary, after testing the proficiency.

Sharing same feelings between teachers and school children
Poor in accommodations for teachers healthcare services, teaching aid, transportation and livelihoods for the families left at the homes are distracting teachers to work in remote areas. About one-third of basic education schools are located in the areas of severe weather conditions and difficult transportation. There are no enough teachers at these schools. These situations have forced the families of little interest in education to withdraw their children from schools. The feelings of children in ethnic areas could only be understood by the local teachers. The children would also admire the teaching profession that requires good volition, interest and sacrifice. By these moral virtues, the welfares for ethnic people could be promoted continuously. In addition, unbalanced ratio of female and male teachers is a challenge for the education of ethnic children. More male teachers will be needed for the far-flung areas to address this problem.

Effective education foundation
The idea of MP who submitted the education proposal can be outlined that a concrete foundation for education would be set up by appointing local graduates in the schools of ethnic areas to overcome the hurdles in attracting children to primary schools due to the language barriers. Only then, the children will easily understand the teaching of local teachers and quickly know the subjects. They will enjoy school and the concept of knowledge, preventing them from turning into truants and dropouts. In the next step, the increasing relationships among teachers, children and parents will surely reduce the prevailing problems. It is very satisfied for education to see such discussions and proposals of MPs in the Hluttaws.

Difficulties in accommodation
A discussion of an MP also reflected the undertakings of Education Ministry to attract all the school-age children to the schools, and could help prevention of early dropouts. Furthermore, teachers from the cities and urban areas hesitate to work in remote areas as they worry about difficulties in transportation, accommodation and relationships with the local people. Accommodation cannot be provided to them sufficiently despite the ongoing measures for this. Vacancies should be fulfilled in time. Duties of female teachers must be substituted when they take maternity leave. The MP suggested the appointment of local teachers to address such problems.

Discussion reflected on the existing situations
Another MP also discussed poor in education quality and development sector in rural areas due to these challenges and problems could be tackled collaboratively by the skills of devoted teachers and the enthusiasm of children. The MP also expressed his belief that outstanding students could be generated by appointing local teachers, while appreciating the efforts of the State in preservation of ethnic cultures and traditions. In supporting discussion of other MPs, they presented their reviews on the implementation of government in education sector. They acknowledge generating teachers from education colleges, hiring teachers on daily wages, all-inclusive education programmes, and designing curriculum for ethnic subjects.
Th MP also discussed the appointment of teachers from nearby areas, even if there is no opportunity to get the local teachers; transfer is to be made only at the end of each academic year; psychological relations should be taken into account between the teachers and the children. Another MP also presented the ways to adjust rules and principles in recruitment process of teaching training school in Hakha, Chin State, in which the number of selected candidates were remarkably lower than that of applicants. The MP also suggested the local applicants should be prioritized in selection procedure. The Tatmadaw representative made a supporting discussion about the existing education policy and the student-centered teaching method, with remarks on the possible difficulties in selecting local graduates for teachers in every area of the country, the duty substitutions in understaffed schools and formation of monitoring bodies in respective townships.

Experiences in some countries and their implementation
Problems of teachers in far-flung areas can also be found in other countries. Some common difficulties are taking place in Indonesia, India and Nepal where the teachers are not willingly to work in remote areas. These problems are being solved by hiring daily waged teachers, increasing education budget, the allocation of special budget by the central governments to attract them, the enactment of teacher law and the regular support for transfer (based on the location and status of schools). Myanmar Government has gradually increased education budget, (80 percent of capital budget for education was spent for basic education in 2019-2010 fiscal year), conducted Diploma in Teaching Education courses for matriculated students, the Pre-Primary Teacher Training courses for the graduates and one-month training course for daily-waged teachers. Moreover, teachers in remote areas are encouraged with special assistance and the non-local teachers are provided with safe and free accommodation. In addition, the government is working with UNESCO (STEM) to narrow gender gap in appointing teachers in the future.

Proposal was approved
After the supporting discussions on the proposal, the Deputy Minister for Education remarked on the proposal, confirming that his ministry is emphasizing on the local people in recruitment for education programme, as well as their qualification. The Deputy Minister also said he acknowledged the benefits of ethnic teachers, and agreed to put it in the education policy for implementation. The Pyithu Hluttaw MPs also agreed to approve the proposal.
Education is important for conserving a State, the development of people and valuable traditions. The discussions of MPs in the Hluttaw about this proposal can be regarded as a move to foster a sector and to get closer cooperation among respective sectors. In the discussions, the MPs and the respondents to the proposals were found to have their good willingness for the welfares and benefits of the children and the parents in remote areas, knowledge and their far-sightedness. Approval on this proposal could help in developing human resources, and supporting local development programmes. Peace and development cannot stand separately, and it will absolutely guarantee for the lasting peace that our people ever expect in the Union.
(Translated by Aung Khin)

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