Myanmar has launched the country’s first-ever Alternative Education Subsector [Policy] Framework that will guide the design and implementation of alternative education initiatives for out-of-school children, according to a UNICEF statement.
In his opening address Deputy Minister, U Win Maw Tun, said, “This strategy is in line with the Ministry of Education’s policy of ‘leaving no child behind’ and will also help the nation achieve its goals under the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP) and the National Education Strategic Plan (2016-2021).” The framework builds on initiatives implemented over the past three years. So far, the country has over 17,000 non-formal primary and non-formal middle education learners as well more than 50,000 adult literacy learners.
The new alternative education initiatives outlined in the framework are aimed at children and youth who have experienced difficulty accessing formal education, including children and youth living in remote areas; children and youth in conflict- and disaster-affected areas; children and youth on the move; and children and youth with disabilities and chronic health problems.
“While steady progress has been made in school enrolment, it is estimated that there are still over 2 million children out of school in Myanmar, with significant disparities between states and regions,” said Paul Edwards, UNICEF Deputy Representative to Myanmar.
The new framework aims to strengthen coordination and management of existing alternative education initiatives; improve the quality of the education and expand access to learning; develop research and innovation; and support the implementation of alternative education programmes.
Specifically, the framework focuses on providing children and youth who are out of school with knowledge, skills, attitudes and values for lifelong learning. It will facilitate their access to flexible, non-formal education, which in turn will provide opportunities for them to enter or re-enter formal education or follow other development pathways, such as learning entrepreneurial skills or other life-skills that will prepare them for the workforce.
Since late 2016, UNICEF has been supporting the Department of Alternative Education in the Ministry of Education to develop the Alternative Education Subsector Framework, with financial support from the European Union and Denmark. Simultaneously, UNICEF has continued its support to the delivery of non-formal primary education as well as the piloting of non-formal middle school education in three states, namely, Kachin, Kayah and Rakhine. Based on the positive results of the pilot, the programme is expected to be rolled out across the country.
The launch was attended by members of the Union Parliament, National Education Policy Commission (NEPC) members, National Curriculum Committee (NCC) members, National Accreditation and Quality Assurance Committee members (NAQAC), Director Generals, Rectors, the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, seniors officials from the Ministry of Education, donor representatives, UN agencies, local and international NGOs, senior government officials from other departments and the working group members who drafted the framework.
“UNICEF is committed to further support the Ministry of Education to deliver alternative education initiatives in Myanmar, for the benefit of all children who, otherwise, would miss out on the opportunity of education,” added Edwards.