Caught between COVID-19, Coup and Conflict—What Future for Myanmar Higher Education Reforms?
2. Policy Reform in Unstable States
3. Military Coups in Myanmar
4. Myanmar Education Reforms: 2010–2020
5. Higher Education (HE) and the Reforms
6.1. Context of the Research
6.3. Data Collection and Analysis
- How did COVID affect the Higher Education(HE)/Teacher Education (TE) sector? (ကိုဗစ်ကြောင့် တက္ကသိုလ်ပညာရေး သို့မဟုတ် ဆရာအတတ်သင်ပညာရေး ထိခိုက်ရပုံကို ဖြေပါ။)
- How did the coup affect the HE/TE sector? (အာဏာသိမ်းမှုကြောင့် တက္ကသိုလ်ပညာရေး သို့မဟုတ် ဆရာအတတ်သင်ပညာရေး ထိခိုက်ရပုံကို ဖြေပါ။)
- What should be the vision of the HE/TE sector for Myanmar’s future? (တက္ကသိုလ်ပညာရေး သို့မဟုတ် ဆရာအတတ်သင်ပညာရေး ၌ ထားရှိသင့်သည့် မျှော်မှန်းချက်ပန်းတိုင်ကို ဖော်ပြပါ။)
- How does the ideal vision of the HE/TE sector contrast with what the Tatmadaw leaders see as HE/TE? (ထားရှိသင့်သည့် တက္ကသိုလ်ပညာရေး သို့မဟုတ် ဆရာအတတ်သင်ပညာရေး မျှော်မှန်းချက်ပန်းတိုင် နှင့် စစ်တပ်မှ တက္ကသိုလ်ပညာရေး သို့မဟုတ် ဆရာအတတ်သင်ပညာရေး အပေါ်မြင်သောအမြင် ခြားနားကွဲပြားပုံကို - ခြားနားသည်ဟုအမြင်ရှိက - ဖော်ပြပါ။)
- What future does CDMers have? How is it different from Non CDMers? (စီဒီအမ်များ တွေ့ကြုံရမည့် အနာဂါတ်ကို မည်သို့မြင်ပါသလဲ။ နန်း စီဒီအမ်များ နှင့် မည်သို့ခြားနားပါသလဲ။).
Because of COVID, the exams in most universities were postponed. Students who were going to graduate cannot finish their studies. They [students] are distracted from their learning and in the middle of nowhere. (HE-PP)
Initially, in the first wave, it brought positive effects, teachers inevitably learning new things to cope with modern digitalized education, like LMS [Learning Management Systems], virtual classrooms and so on. For the second and third wave + coup, there were more negative ones especially for students. Learning was almost shut down. (HE-YNSN)
COVID seriously affected the HE. No effective countermeasures to COVID have been taken for students not to disconnect their studies such as Online teaching, Hybrid teaching etc. Although some universities were reopened and had students attend the face-to-face classes for two weeks and let all-level of students pass exams, which really affect education quality. (HE-KTDM)
The first is that the Ministry of Education has not properly trained teacher educators for online teaching, so it took longer than necessary to teach online. As a result, student teachers have lost their right to study. Another is that professional development programs for teacher educators are not as effective as face-to-face online switching. Lack of interest, Lack of participation (TE-TT)
The pandemic affected Teacher Education seriously. Education Degree Colleges had to stop their regular system and the teaching-learning process had been totally ended for student-teachers. But that of teacher-educators could continue with online learning (British Council’s Tree Process could proceed with online). In that situation, teacher-educators had to learn the use of the digital platform on learning not only for their professional development but for the preparation of giving online lectures to student-teachers. So, we can say that even the pandemic affected the Teacher Education sector negatively, it could change that issue to the opportunity of learning and using digital platforms for the Teacher-educators. (TE-MP)
Because of the COVID pandemic, to our Teacher Educator sector, we faced the failure of implementing incoming plans. We did not get a chance to keep reforming teacher education. We, teacher educators, lost opportunities to attend programs or projects for continuous professional development. For our student teachers, they also lost opportunities for continuously learning as we could not give and share with them teaching knowledge what they need to know. (TE-AM)
7.2. Coup (The Third Coup d’état in 2021)
7.3. Higher Education’s Reaction to the Coup
First, it stopped all the progress the HE is having both in its management system and in its academic research. Second, students cannot have the continuous education via online programme that was being planned during the COVID before Coup. Third, many good teachers give up their spots as they no longer believe in the education system operated by the Military. (HE-PP)
Disastrous! Over 90% students and almost 40% (initially almost 80%) teachers and staffs joined CDM, boycotting the junta, saying bye to their universities as long as they are under the junta’s control. Some teachers and students try to carry on education in all means possible but the majority cannot. (HE-YNSN)
Coup affected the HE seriously. Many staff have participated in CDM to protest it. As a result, some have been hidden themselves in places where they cannot be known, or some cannot go to international universities to pursue further studies, which has negatively effects not only for themselves but also on the HE. (HE-KTDM)
The coup affected the Teacher Education Sector negatively and seriously because those who are in the middle of the coup and who accepted it keep leading the teacher education sector. There would be no bright future because of those people who could not determine which is right or wrong and would like to encourage the bad people. (TE-AM)
Because of the Coup, CDM has developed. Many teachers and students participated in CDM and were involved in the revolution. So formal learning opportunities for student-teacher had been destroyed by the coup and teacher educators lost their jobs. Before the coup, we were going to implement the four-year new curriculum and upgrading Education Colleges to Education Degree Colleges, and all our plans have been destroyed by the coup. (TE-MP)
The main reason is that student teachers are losing their right to study. Some have given their lives in opposition to the dictator. Some have committed suicide due to mental illness. CDM teacher educators have been wrongfully arrested by the dictatorial military council. There were also killings. The trust between the teacher and the student; Respect and value. Understandings were ruined by a group of dictators. (TE-TT)
7.4. Conflict: Clash of Ideologies
Tatmadaw does not really have any good-will on the development of Myanmar’s education. For them, it appears people should be lacking thinking skills so that they can control people and exploit country’s resources for their own sake. They might be thinking that the lower the education level, the better for them to take advantage of it. (HE-KTDM)
The junta sees academic freedom, autonomy and international collaboration as their threats. Teachers are just staff to promote a stratocracy state (which they think would be peaceful and developed and in reality not. My ideal vision is the opposite. (HE-YNSN)
We see education as a kind of political affair in a country. A teacher should have a sound knowledge and interest in the political situation of his or her country and wants to participate in its movement. But, the military junta see education separately, not related to the political crisis. We could say it is a kind of being provincial in outlook. (TE-MP)
Although we focus on teacher education to create updated themes for improving and reforming a better teacher education system, the Tatmadaw leaders see as Teacher Education sector that it is not as important as what they do to get authority on Myanmar people. To my mind, the junta has been creating the teacher education system outdated as we have postponed all our upcoming education plans. (TE-AM)
I find that the HE of Myanmar is quite reluctant to collaborate and cooperate with other organizations. The hierarchy system of the organization doesn’t allow people, teaching staffs and administrative staffs, to have autonomy and will to develop themselves. The closed structure of the system make people work in the government since the beginning of their working life till they get pension. (HE-PP)
Teacher education is about thinking, thinking, thinking. Values It is to cultivate teachers who are constantly learning based on skills. The military’s view is that teachers are more likely to give birth to children who will say “yes” than “think” rather than think. Teacher education is seen as the best place to brainwash the people. (TE-TT)
The vision of the HE should be promoting quality of teachers from all levels to produce quality human resources for different sectors by providing Continuous Professional Development activities to teachers, by reviewing the curriculum and updating it accordingly to the fast flowing changes of today’s era. (HE-KTDM)
My expected vision of the future HE is to build up an active and innovative society for the teachers and students which advocates the transparent working system. I hope students who finished their degrees can have the appropriate job opportunities and they can have opportunities to equip themselves with the required skills. (HE-PP)
In my opinion, based on the current political crisis, the vision of the Teacher Education sector should include those facts such as to produce educated teachers with high knowledge of Myanmar Political situation and the role of education in a political affair, federal education system, and respect to equity and inclusion. (to produce educated teachers who can perform the federal education system successfully). (TE-MP)
The vision of the Teacher Education Sector of Myanmar’s future should be with a variety of updated, inclusive, and modernized themes to implement the federal education system because we must lead our sector to be with international standards. To systematically reform our sector, there must be included 21st-century skills and therefore, qualified teachers would be well- produced and it would become an inclusive and comprehensive teacher educator system. (TE-AM)
1. Tear down the decaying systems of hidden academic frauds and deep rooted bureaucracy. (Eliminate all corruptions in it)
2. Build a Higher Education System of REAL autonomy, academic freedom + quality assurance.
3. Adapt in accordance with the needs of a Federal nation, not a single race state. (HE-YNSN)
8. Discussion: Caught between COVID-19, Coup and Conflict
CDMers hope to become a democratic nation and have a federal education system. They love the truth and want to leave the military government. They have no wish to stay long with fear under the junta. They want to get freedom from fear and hope to create a better teacher education system with qualified and democratic leaders. Alternatively, non-CDMers are different from CDMers because those who keep working under the military government want to stay their lives with ease and comfort. They do not have the sense to differentiate what is right or wrong. (TE-AM)
Ironically, neither will have real universities to ethically work in, under the junta. CDMers still have students but no secure places to conduct classes. Non-CDMers still get salaries but almost no students accepting them. As long as students can respect them as moral teachers, teachers can be teachers, which will be difficult for Non-CDMers. (HE-YNSN)
CDM teachers can be emotionally and physically insecure. The safety of their family members can also be compromised. They may also lose the right to further education locally. However, with the help of international organizations, CDM students might be able to continue their education. CDM teachers will definitely gain the respect and trust of the people which Non-CDMers can never hope to get again. It is true that some CDM teachers will have to give up their beloved teaching profession to make a living but there will also be others who might still get a job in their same profession. These CDM teachers will lead the way for future federal education and rehabilitation. Some CDMs might not be working as teachers anymore but they will still be very important in carrying out national reconstruction efforts in collaboration with local and foreign organizations. (TE-TT)
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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Htut, K.P.; Lall, M.; Kandiko Howson, C. Caught between COVID-19, Coup and Conflict—What Future for Myanmar Higher Education Reforms? Educ. Sci. 2022, 12, 67. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12020067
Htut KP, Lall M, Kandiko Howson C. Caught between COVID-19, Coup and Conflict—What Future for Myanmar Higher Education Reforms? Education Sciences. 2022; 12(2):67. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12020067Chicago/Turabian Style
Htut, Khaing Phyu, Marie Lall, and Camille Kandiko Howson. 2022. "Caught between COVID-19, Coup and Conflict—What Future for Myanmar Higher Education Reforms?" Education Sciences 12, no. 2: 67. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12020067