Myanmar: MPs call for improved assessments, teacher accommodation

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Lower house lawmaker U Kyaw Htay (NLD; Leshi) urged the government to fund the construction of education staff housing in areas where it is lacking, especially in rural, underdeveloped villages.

Teachers assigned to rural areas often do not have formal accommodation, but instead must rely on villagers finding them a family willing to house them.

“It is essential to have staff housing for teachers because they are facing social problems in their villages and the school management has to negotiate conflicts over housing,” he told the Pyithu Hluttaw on August 8.

He added that when teachers are not comfortable in their accommodations, or are placed in very remote areas without any sort of assistance, it is students who end up suffering the consequences of the high teacher attrition rates.

“Where teachers face accommodation problems as well as transportation problems, it is the students who suffer as they lose out on their education,” U Kyaw Htay said.

Chin State MP U Par Htan (NLD; Matupi) seconded the proposal, noting that in developed villages, local residents can arrange a basic wood house for teachers, but in poorer areas, such as the Naga self-administered zone, the options are extremely limited.

Mandalay MP U Hla Moe (NLD; Aung Myay Tharzan) put forward a separate education proposal requesting a rethinking of how schools assess students’ progress, and to move away from the high-stakes exam forms of evaluation.

“Now what is happening is that students and parents are devoting their attention only to exam results,” he said, bemoaning the perceived lack of real learning in the classrooms.

Students memorise their lessons to parrot them back during the exams, but do not internalise the information, he said. From kindergarten to the matriculation exams, the whole system is biased against critical thinking, he said.

“In other countries, exams are not the only way to decide whether students move to the next class or not,” said U Hla Moe.

The education system is not fostering outstanding citizens who can think logically, he added, and instead parents are wasting a lot of money on preparing for tests.

Last week, the state counsellor also voiced support for moving the education system away from rote learning.

“A good memory is not enough,” she said at an August 4 education seminar in Nay Pyi Taw.

Arakan National Party MP U Pe Than (Myebon) said he supports both education proposals, but encouraged parliament to monitor responses to the proposal, rather than adopt them and move on.

U Hla Moe said they hope education minister U Myo Thein Gyi takes the proposals seriously, and collaborates with parliament.

“If we are not satisfied with his response, we will have to make a parliamentary decision because boosting the education sector is really needed for the country,” he said.

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