Thursday, November 1, 2012

Intermediate education: a way to create a young workforce in Burma

Thursday, 01 November 2012 15:06 Myat Thu Pan

(Commentary) – One of the most cost effective and efficient ways the US creates a young, entry-level labor force is not found in the traditional universities that offer four-year degrees.

It is the ubiquitous community colleges or junior college systemlocated all over the country, in every county and in every state.

They produce an incredible work force of twenty to thirty year olds. It's a two-year diploma course with the opportunity to go on to a four-year college degree if the student makes the grades.

Burma should look at this intermediate US education system, because Burma already has a wide network of regional colleges across the nation and many of them are under used yet piling up expenses.

If some of the underused schools can be converted into a modified version of the community college system and add some vocational training components,Burma, in a short time,could soon have a viable young labor force all over the country.

Courses in these American community colleges run from basic education like English, math, science, biology, etc., but what is most effective is that the colleges have also offer excellent vocational training course such as carpentry, auto mechanics, small machinery and engine repair, agricultural, animal husbandry, forestry, plumbing, how to start a small business, book keeping, accounting and so on.

Many graduates can find entry-level jobs right away because they have already apprenticed with local businesses during the training.

The teachers are university graduates with teaching credentials. These are state-funded colleges and students can also apply for student loans in the US, which they repay with interest when they are employed. Grants from local businesses and scholarships also help students to stay in school.

Burma already has a many regional colleges, which should be able to accommodate two-year diploma courses and develop vocational training courses. The latter will be the most cost effective, as the colleges will serve the lower middle class and young rural population.

To encourage domestic small-scale industries, courses could offer weaving, sewing, food preserving and, homemaking courses for young women. And when the micro financing is in place in most districts these graduates can learn how to set up their own business.

Micro financing in some countries also create cooperatives for women and young men to set up business. The Thai Girl Guides Association has projects in the rural areas helping women set up cooperatives in sewing, food preservations, etc. The same can be done for young people through NGOs in the rural areas.

Linking NGOs and the community colleges could facilitate micro economic growth for the rural population.

The planning for such aventure should start now before the young rural population begins a massive exodus to the mega-industrial zones that are being planned in large cities, which can lead to massive overcrowding and major urbanization problems.

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