Myanmar Higher Education Policy
4. Promotion of Accessibility, Quality and Diversity in Higher Education
The Higher Education Sub-sector has experienced a tremendous expansion since 1988. The successful implementation of the Special Four-Year Education Plan initiated in 2000, and the tenth year of the implementation of the Long-Term Education Development Plan have led to the promotion of accessibility to higher education, upgrading of the quality of education, and increase in diversity.
4.1 Accessibility through Quantitative Expansion
Myanmar, which is aiming for equitable development of all its regions, has divided the country into 24 development zones, to ensure that no area may be left undeveloped. With the expansion in the number of higher education institutions from 32 in 1988 to 161 in 2012, each of the 24 development zones now possesses at least one arts and science university, one technological university and one computer science university.
Of the 161 higher education institutions in the country, 64 are under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. The number of higher education institutions in states and regions has been increased and the number of higher education institutions in States and Regions is shown in Table 2.
Table 2: Number of Higher Education Institutions in States and Regions
|Number of HEI
4.2 Promoting the Quality of Higher Education
Higher education is undergoing qualitative transformation. The long-term education development plan aspires to transform breadth of learning into breadth and depth of learning. While promoting generative synthesis, it simultaneously intends to stimulate creativity, initiative and a keen desire to discover in students. To imbue these qualities in higher education students, all disciplines have undergone through renewal. New assessment techniques that test depth and breadth of knowledge, creativity and analytical thinking have replaced the old modes of testing that encouraged rote learning and regurgitation of facts. Moreover, to provide students with an extensive choice, all disciplines have introduced the system of offering foundation courses, core courses and electives since December 2002.
The plan also seeks to boost the number of multi-disciplinary courses being offered at higher education institutions with the belief that integrating knowledge from different programmes train students to think beyond the confines of a single discipline and inculcate in them intellectual breadth and depth.
At the undergraduate level too, higher education institutions have introduced a wide spectrum of multi-disciplinary courses, to engage students in greater breadth of learning from a very early level. Another important task of the long-term plan to be implemented is the change from department-based system to faculty system. The programme was presented at the 2002 higher education seminar and is to be implemented stage by stage. The move will greatly facilitate in furthering the use of cross-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary approaches at higher education institutions.
The tenth year of the implementation of Thirty-Year Long-Term Education Development Plan has seen noteworthy enhancements of the quality of programmes being offered. The number and type of programmes have significantly increased. ICT has gained a key foothold in the delivery of programmes and management, and faculty and staff development is being intensified. Moreover, higher education institutions are also trying to expand the linkages among the alternative forms of education programmes available.
4.2.1 Qualitative Developments in the Higher Education Sub-Sector
The higher education institutions have expanded enormously the number of courses offered to promote a wider choice for students as well as to introduce courses that are more attuned to the needs of the times. Higher education institutions are also focusing on ways to contribute to regional development by offering courses that fulfil community needs. Apart from regular undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, the institutions also offer distance and human resource development programmes. The types of programmes offered by higher education institutions are shown in Table 3. A total of 612,139 students enrolled for the regular undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at 164 universities and degree colleges in the 2011-2012 AY. The number of students, graduates and teaching staff under the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the other Ministries are shown in Table 4. Under the Ministry of Education, the number of first year students in the 2008-2009 AY was 179,990 and 105,192 students successfully completed the programmes in the 2010-2011 AY.
Table 3: Types of programmes offered by higher education institutions
|Type of Programme
|No. of Course
|Human Resource Development Programmes
Table 4: Number of students, graduates and teaching staff in 2010-2011
|Science and Technology
4.2.2Developing Learner Maturity, Creativity, Analytical Skills, and Ability to Utilize Modern Technology
A significant aim of the education development plans is to introduce new curriculum, teaching methods and evaluation system that give emphasis to the development of learner maturity and creativity, analytical skills, and ability to utilize modern technology. To promote these high order skills in students, higher education institutions formed task forces to introduce changes in teaching methodology. Learner-centred approaches, such as problem-based learning, project-based learning and fieldwork were incorporated into the learning experience of higher education students. This enhances practical and interpersonal skills and helps students to become more active learners who can synthesize practical with theoretical experience and employ knowledge learnt in solving real life issues.
In addition, computer training centres were established at all higher education institutions and computer courses were introduced at all levels as a compulsory component to promote computer literacy among tertiary level students to enable them to harness ICT in their learning. Moreover, to facilitate effective instruction, teaching and presentation, multimedia lecture rooms were established at all higher education institutions. In order to encourage self-directed learning, e-resource centres were introduced so that both faculty and students could use these centres to augment their lectures with self-access multimedia learning materials.
4.2.3 Upgrading Curricula and Syllabi
In accordance with the aim of Thirty-Year Long-Term Plan to upgrade the quality of higher education programmes to ensure that students acquire knowledge, skills and technology that are of relevance to their future needs, professors and heads of academic departments of higher education institutions, under the guidance of their respective board of studies, reviewed the curricula and syllabi of both undergraduate and postgraduate courses every year.
4.2.4 Credit System
The assessment system at higher education institutions was revised to be in tandem with the modular form of courses. The credit system was introduced at the postgraduate level beginning from the 1999-2000 AY and at the undergraduate level from the First Year beginning from the 2000-2001 AY. The credit system allows students to progress at his/ her own rate according to their ability and facilitate Myanmar students transfer to foreign institutions on student exchange programmes. Questions that demand critical thinking and intelligent application are being utilized, avoiding factual recall.
4.2.5 Introducing Multi-disciplinary Courses to Develop Cross-Disciplinary Thinking
A significant development in higher education is the introduction of the cross-disciplinary approach to learning as part of the education promotion plan. Multi-disciplinary programmes were initiated at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. This initiative provides students with a wide intellectual platform and trains them to think across disciplines and inculcate them with intellectual breadth.
4.2.6 Launching New Programms
A new programme, the Master of Research (MRes), was initiated at all the universities in 1998. This one-year pure research programme which is open to qualified Master’s degree holders was introduced to promote research capabilities at higher education institutions.
To generate an indigenous supply of the requisite specialists in the country, doctorate programmes were initiated in the 1994-1995 AY.
New graduate programmes such as the Master of Public Administration (MPA) programme was initiated by the Institutes of Economics (IOEs) to cater to the demand for advanced management studies. The IOEs also introduced Bachelor and Honours degree programmes in Public Administration, Development Studies, Home Economics, Population Studies, Business Administration and Accountancy.
The National Management College (NMC) which aspires to be a centre of excellence in the field of business and management education was founded in December 2004 in Yangon. It offers disciplines related to management to nurture highly qualified human resource, and in the process, the disciplines utilize the technology that has emerged with the times, and simultaneously provide training in the use of ICT and English. It aims to produce graduates and certificate holders of the highest calibre who are able to serve as specialists of international standard in government departments, private organizations, and their own enterprises. Up till now NMC has offered business management, ICT and English language related certificate, diploma and bachelor courses including the Diploma in Leadership Development.
4.2.7 Needs of Local Communities
Myanmar higher education institutions are reinforcing their role as a centre for creating and disseminating knowledge in the local community. They are defining the services, skills and knowledge that they could provide to rural areas and the community in which they are located and strengthen linkages with local communities and rural communities and contribute to their development. They have been able to harness technology to act as a driving force in the delivery of knowledge and skills. They also carry out research on local resources and identify educational programmes they can offer using the networks of learning centres and community learning centres and other means available. Community-based human resource development is being activated in order to buttress development of the local residents’ lifelong learning and promote the growth of local industries.
As a task of the Thirty-Year Long-Term Education Development Plan for fiscal year 2005-2006, higher education institutions have been assigned to establish Community Development Centres to offer their services to the community. The centres offer courses, do research and offer consultancy services needed by the region in which the institutions are located.
4.2.8 e-Education in Myanmar
As an endeavour to enhance learning opportunities that transcend the limitations of place and time, e-Education was launched in Myanmar on 1 January 2001. By harnessing information and communication technologies, better learning opportunities are being offered for citizens wherever they may be in the country, regardless of age, sex, experience and educational qualifications, thereby facilitating Myanmar to become a learning society capable of facing the challenges posed by the Knowledge Age.
220.127.116.11 Objectives of e-Education
The objectives of initiating e-Education in Myanmar are outlined below:
1. To create an academic environment that is endowed with dynamic knowledge and utilizing contemporary technology
2. To realize the transformation of the working force into a learning force
3. To transform Myanmar into a knowledge dominated-society
4. To strive for Myanmar society to become a lifelong learning society
5. To keep Myanmar education abreast with international standard
18.104.22.168 e-Education in Higher Education
Transformation of the learning environment of higher education sub-sector into a technologically pervasive environment to be in tandem with advances in ICT began in the FY 2000-01 with the initiation of the Special Four-Year Plan. Under the plan, Computer Training Centres, e-Education Resource Centres, e-Education Learning Centres, Audio Type Language Labs, Computer-Aided Language Labs, Multimedia Lecture Rooms and Conference Rooms were established at all the higher education institutions under the Ministry of Education. The establishment of such centres with ICT facilities has brought about fundamental transformations to higher education institutions enabling learners to use ICT in their learning and the faculty to provide improved instruction to their students.
At the higher education level, the two distance education universities, Yangon University of Distance Education and Mandalay University of Distance Education provide part of their instruction at the 741 learning centres utilizing e-learning.
Yangon Institute of Economics offers the Diploma in Education Management, which is a one-year tri-semester programme to enhance management skills of senior faculty and administrators. Part of the programme is spent at the respective home institutions and instruction is provided through e-learning. The English Department of Yangon University has also launched the Young Faculty Development Programme to upgrade the teaching skills of young faculty of English Departments of higher education institutions located all over Myanmar. The innovative programme is based on materials available on the Internet and conducted using the Satellite Data Broadcasting System and viewable at the learning centres of higher education institutions. The Diploma in Library and Information Management Programme initiated with the aim of upgrading the quality of the staff of libraries of higher education institutions utilizes computer aided Web-based e-Exam to test course participants.
The Ministry of Education is increasingly using e-learning to provide short-term training and educative programmes relevant to a wide audience as it has proved to be a cost effective means of disseminating knowledge and skills. The Ministry of Education has initiated online training programmes at learning centres using the Satellite Data Broadcasting System. The online Non-formal Education training programme held in November 2003 was in the form of lectures, demonstrations, quizzes, plays and teleconferencing. Over 7200 persons participated in the training programme. The online training programme on education management for education officials and school principals was held in April 2004 at learning centres all over Myanmar with over 10700 participants. The introduction of the online training programmes has enabled the reduction of training cost and at the same time has made it possible to increase the number of trainees.
All the higher education institutions have now received access to the Internet. In addition, local communities are enjoying the facilities to gain access to knowledge and educative programmes.
22.214.171.124 Online Teaching Programmes
The Computer Science Department of Yangon University has initiated the online Master’s programme in Computer Science using the web-based teaching system. Students can use their own computers to learn, answer the questions and discuss from anywhere they wish, to follow the course. The Diploma programme in Computer Science has been introduced. Another institution, Yangon Institute of Economics launched an MBA programme using the online system in January 2008.
4.2.9 Research Environment
The education plans seek to build research capabilities of higher education institutions to promote basic research to generate new knowledge, applied research to boost research not only for the advancement of the discipline concerned, but also for enterprises, organizations and industries that are in need of modern technology, and those that will have a direct impact on the development of the nation. Research facilities have been upgraded and new equipment and references provided and funding for research has been enhanced. The emerging trend among Myanmar higher education institutions is to provide research services to government departments and private enterprises or collaborate with them in conducting research. A number of these researches have been found to be of high economic value. The formation of research links with industry will be beneficial to higher education institutions in the form of financial and equipment contributions, facility and support staff development and application of the results of researches. For the long-term development of research, the long-term plan aims to establish higher education institutions specializing in research and enhance collaborative research with international research centres and organizations. In addition, a research organization/ centre that focuses on research on education activities will be established under the long-term plan. It will evaluate to what extent the actual outcomes match the visions, objectives and end results of education programmes, and investigate and evaluate the weaknesses. If necessary, it will redefine the visions, objectives and outcomes laid down previously and add, reduce or change programmes.
4.2.10 Faculty Development to Manage New Advancements in Higher Education
The commitment, skill and knowledge of the faculty play a crucial role in the curriculum reform process. To enable teachers in tertiary level education to deal with the multifaceted changes resulting from the upgrading of curricula, the introduction of new textbooks, references, courses, and methodology, a broad range of reforms was initiated and refresher courses were conducted in all academic departments of higher education institutions.
Information Technology skills were imparted so that the faculty could optimize their teaching through IT application. Special English language courses for newly appointed faculty were also introduced to improve their English language proficiency and enable them to provide instructions in English effectively.
4.2.11 Enhancing International Collaborations
The special four-year plan gave impetus to higher education institutions to form linkages and collaborations with international higher education institutions and research organizations in order to harness both local and foreign sources for the development of the higher education sub-sector. The long-term education development plan created an upsurge in the number of initiatives that promoted collaborations with regional and international higher education institutions and organizations. These collaborations were in the form of MoUs, training programmes, conferences, workshops and seminars, joint research programmes, invitations to participate in scholarship programmes and student, faculty and administrator exchanges.
The seminars delivered by the visiting professors were highly beneficial to the faculty members and PhD candidates. Their visits and work carried at higher education institutions were highly supportive to the existing PhD programmes. The faculty members gained exposure and acquire knowledge on recent developments in their respective disciplines and advanced research methods during their discussions with the visiting professors.
4.3 Enhancing Diversity in Higher Education
A variety of modalities has been introduced in higher education to create access and promote more choices for those seeking training and education. These include distance education programmes, human resource development programmes offered by higher education institutions and part-time conventional courses conducted in the mornings, afternoons or evenings to suit those who are employed.
4.3.1 Creating Effective Distance Education Programmes
Two Universities of Distance Education, Yangon University of Distance Education in lower Myanmar and Mandalay University of Distance Education in Upper Myanmar have been established to provide access to higher education to those who are unable to pursue it at conventional institutions for some reasons. Under the education development plans, new specializations – English, Oriental Studies, Myanmar Studies, Creative Writing, Public Policy, Home Economics, and Business Management – were introduced at the distance education universities in addition to the existing 12 disciplines – Myanmar, Geography, History, Philosophy, Psychology, Law, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Zoology, Botany, and Economics. This raised the number of disciplines being offered to 19, thereby advancing the efforts made in the Universities of Distance Education to be more flexible, responsive and open. As in other higher education institutions, the credit system was also introduced at the Universities of Distance Education to facilitate student transfer from conventional institutions to those specializing in distance learning and vice-versa. New textbooks were published in the modular format by textbook committees consisting of specialists in line with the revision of the curriculum.
Distance education universities started with simple means – books and assignments – to provide education to their students. Today, Myanmar distance education institutions can harness a variety of means including sophisticated technology to enhance instruction and provide greater services. To facilitate student learning, a studio to transmit distance education programmes has been established to telecast regular programmes using a separate channel. Satellite Data Broadcasting System is utilized to transmit the programmes from the studio to the 741 learning centres located at higher education institutions, education colleges and basic education high schools all over Myanmar, so that distance education students can view the programmes at the centre that is most convenient to them.
The long-term plan will expedite the expansion of the distance education system and transform it into an open university, to create new teaching programmes, to provide both programmes leading to degrees as well as to introduce programmes that will develop skills and to provide the highest and most extensive learning opportunities by utilizing technology.
4.3.2 Human Resource Development Programmes to Promote Qualified Human Resource
The National Centre for Human Resource Development was established by the Ministry of Education in June 1998 in accordance with the decision made at the seminar held earlier in March to diversify education opportunities in order to produce highly qualified human resource needed by a modernizing economy. Upholding the belief that education is a lifelong learning process, the centres function with the following main aims:
- to widen the scope of choices for students wishing to pursue job-related knowledge, skills and technology
- to establish new programmes for training and re-training
- to offer opportunities to those graduates who desire to continue studies to acquire advanced skills and knowledge
- to establish a parallel education system which nurtures intellectuals and experts needed by the country
- to enable those who wish to continue their studies to do so without being a burden to the State
- to economize on the budget provided by the State by conducting courses that charge a minimum amount of tuition fees
- to prevent education wastage by enabling those who have not completed their tertiary level education to do so at their own pace and during their free time
- to confer degrees, diplomas and certificates appropriate to the curriculum and length of the courses
- to utilize retired academics in order to make use of their skills and knowledge
A number of courses offered by the human resource development centres were conducted in partnership with foreign and local private enterprises contributing to their practical relevance. Morning, evening and weekend classes, some leading to diplomas and degrees, have been conducted to cater to the professional needs of those in service.
These courses are held in parallel to the regular programmes at higher education institutions. The CHRDs will continue to strive to identify the needs of the communities they are based in, promote programmes that fulfil the needs of communities, regions and the State and participate in the development of qualified manpower needed for a modernizing and developing economy.