Certainly more than 90% of young people in Myanmar would say “No” if asked if they are satisfied with the country’s current education system and if they think they are getting equal access to quality education and other relevant opportunities for personal and professional development. Most if not all students in the country have been experiencing a parrot-learning, facts-memorizing, and exam-oriented education system for years. As a country with the longest running civil war in the world, the government has made peacebuilding and national reconciliation a priority above anything else giving little attention to education.
In the basic education level, essential skills for higher education such as critical thinking, self-directed learning, civic education, and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) literacy, are not included in the school curriculum. Furthermore, there is a lack of support from the administrative authorities in the higher education level. There is minimal procedural transparency and a wide information gap. There are instances when some universities are not in favor of a particular opportunity if it does not directly come from the Ministry of Education or Department of Higher Education.
The lack of information and state-led capacity building programs for youths, skill gap, weak online learning culture, and unequal opportunities for young people especially in rural areas, are hindering their participation in the nation’s efforts towards sustainable development. Strengthening a strong educational infrastructure takes a long time and it is unfortunate that it still not a primary focus for the government.
Those who are able to make breakthroughs in the current education system are aware that investing in the youth can lead to the betterment of the country. They want to share opportunities to young people by filling the gaps mentioned above in diferent of ways. These private institutions are contributing in breaking down the barriers standing in the way of advancing capacities of Myanmar’s youths.
Myanmar’s problems cannot be solved by a single person. It is the combined efforts and actions of diverse groups of people that can start making changes for the society as shown in the examples below
Photo from CCEducare
CCEducare is a social enterprise that aims to reduce the limited access to quality education through the use of information technology. They offer new learning experiences with online courses, digital classrooms, and online learning platforms. They cultivate an online learning culture where young people can autonomously learn even if they are living in remote areas. Moreover, they have organized hands-on workshops on Digital Literacy in the cities of Yangon, Mandalay, and Taunggyi to educate the youth with ICT using the internet as a right tool for lifelong learning. The course is now available online.
In Myanmar, internet penetration is exponentially at its peak. Unfortunately, while the misuse of internet remains high, its usage for educational purposes remains very low owing to lack of ICT and digital literacy. CCEducare is taking the lead in delivering solutions for this problem.
Photo from Myanmar Youth Initiative
In 2013, this non-profit organization was founded by enthusiastic young professionals who have been exposed to global education and share a common passion to foster youth participation in various development sectors. By the time they started their work, there were very few youth-led organizations that could provide proper support for capacity building. Through their ingenious youth-oriented events such as campaigns and forums focused on education, entrepreneurship, and civic engagement, they have trained many young leaders who have carried out successful community projects.
Photo from MYEO website
As an Education Technology social enterprise, MYEO sees information and skill gaps as the biggest challenges for Myanmar’s youths in the 21st century. To narrow the information gap, they built a digital platform where young people can access information on the opportunities that may extend their education into a global context. Additionally, they provide professional skill trainings both online and offline across different regions with the focus of boosting up job-readiness and reducing unemployment rates.
Using the power of education and technology, a community of leaders and learners that can bring positive change to the society can be built. MYEO is a clear proof of this.
Photo from Seed for Myanmar
Founded in 2016 as a small community library that evolved as a local NGO, SEED has organized over 60 events for approximately over 1200 youths in Mon State. SEED for Myanmar aims to train a new generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, and change agents who will rebuild an economy and community that will break the cycle of poverty and low quality education in Mon State. Specifically, they target university students and provide them access to political engagement, youth leadership, and entrepreneurship through their activities which are mostly public talks, seminars, short training courses and dialogues. Geographically, they aim to reach the youth in all ten townships in Mon State.
Photo from BizTory
BizTory Myanmar is a startup social enterprise which aims to enhance Myanmar’s economic development by empowering Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and strengthening them through marketing with authenticity and quality. Apart from its core business model, BizTory conducts workshops and skills training on branding and digital marketing. They also hold innovative youth events such as the Senior to New Generation Networking Event in Kayin State to unleash the hidden potentials, skills, and talents of young people living in the region.
When it comes to rural youth empowerment, it is important to assess and identify the necessities since rooms for improvement in such regions differ from one place to another. BizTory knows what skills young people need to fill in the gaps.
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