Primary school teachers need to be more valued, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said at an education seminar in the capital last week.
“I too care about primary education,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said at the Education Promotion Implementation Seminar. “But at the moment, primary school teachers are not being valued when compared with those at the higher education level.”
“In other countries, primary school teachers are paid higher salaries than high school teachers because it is accepted that teaching at the primary level is the most difficult and the most important,” she added. “Like the saying goes, ‘A good beginning makes a good ending,’ primary education is very important.”
Primary school teachers are among the lowest paid in the state education system, but often face the highest student-to-teacher ratios, with classrooms sometimes as a large as 100 pupils.
The National League for Democracy (NLD) has pledged to reform Myanmar’s dilapidated and long under-funded public education system, and has promised to provide universal free education. However, education reform proponents are confronted with a miniscule budget – K1501 billion, or 7.03 percent of total spending as allocated by the previous administration’s budget.
The NLD-backed government has yet to put a price tag on its anticipated education reform agenda, which it has said will start at the primary school level and involve curriculum rewrites and teacher retraining in order to move away from rote learning.
At the July 21-22 seminar, experts on primary education discussed ongoing education reforms and projects for the primary school sector, including a new Grade 2 curriculum in the works with input from experts at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Currently, there are 9.2 million primary students attending government, private, monastic and mobile schools.
Union Minister for Education U Myo Thein Gyi said there is a high dropout rate among primary students. To create more opportunities for children to gain access to schools and to promote the education sector, parent-teacher associations and respective ministries need to work together, he said.