Thursday, May 31, 2012

Major universities to get ‘special education centres’

Thursday, 31 May 2012 13:06 Mizzima News

Universities in Rangoon and Mandalay in the future will have special education centres with a mission to upgrade the overall education standards in Burma, said presidential adviser Ko Ko Hlaing, who was quoted in an article in Weekly Eleven on Tuesday.

“Some foreign organizations have offered to promote the Myanmar education system. We hope to upgrade the universities including the former Yangon University,” he said, adding that teachers who lack qualifications will be trained at centers of excellence.

Yangon University's Convocation Hall Photo: Wikipedia / Wagaung

Ko Ko Hlaing’s remarks come one week later after a flap over an “Open Letter” by presidential economic adviser Dr. Myint, citing the deteriorating education system in Burma, particularly at its major universities. The letter, written on May 19, was published on the Internet.

Meanwhile, Ko Ko Hlaing told the privately operated newspaper that the government is cooperating with Johns Hopkins University of the United States in ways to strengthen the education sector.

Also, India has agreed to help Burma open an Information Technology University in 2013, he said.

The Asia Foundation, a non-profit nongovernmental organization, has also offered to provide books and documents and support an online library system in Burma.

Official statistics show that the number of state-operated basic education schools in the country has increased to 41,000 with a total of more than 8.1 million students who are pursuing education under the guidance of more than 270,000 teachers.

In the higher education sector, Burma has 161 universities and colleges.

Earlier, Mizzima reported that Ko Ko Hlaing and other presidential advisers held a press conference on May 25, saying Myint’s letter, which called for the restoration of Rangoon University to its former level of excellence, did not represent the views of the president’s office.

By western standards, there appeared to be very little that was controversial in Myint’s letter. Some observers said the flap might have arisen simply because the letter was released from outside official channels and could be interpreted as a call for action.

Reading between the lines, the letter made a plea for the improvement of Rangoon University as a means to further the economic development and prestige of the country.

One section compared Rangoon University to the Irrawaddy River:

“Like the Irrawaddy River, RU [Rangoon University] has lost much of its former glory and splendor. Nevertheless, our recent experience with the Irrawaddy offers a valuable lesson. Last September, the people of Myanmar came out with a united, clear and strong stand on the need to protect the Irrawaddy and to restore it to its former glory.

“This united and strong expression of public sentiment, and decisive action by the Government in support of this people’s will yielded good results. Similar public expression of support, at this time, to restore RU to its former glory would be highly desirable.”

The advisers said Myint wrote the letter on his own volition, and the presidential advisers’ office did not know about the letter in advance. They said that because of Myint’s position as a presidential adviser, the letter could cause a misunderstanding among various groups of people, because the issue is sensitive and important.

“We do not want the public to misunderstand,” said an adviser.

A copy of the letter can be found at

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