UNICEF calls for action for involvement in education reform
YANGON, MYANMAR, 02 June 2014 - UNICEF congratulates the children of Myanmar, along with their parents and teachers, who are returning to schools this week. It is estimated that over 5.25 million primary school children are enrolling this week and over 1.25 million of these girls and boys are entering Grade 1 for the first time.
“Quality education is a key factor in providing Myanmar’s children with opportunities for growth, development and advancement” said Mr. Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar. “Fulfilling children’s rights to education is crucial, so that every child gets the best possible start in life”.
Last year, more than 750,000 children benefitted from improved education in more than 6,000 primary schools thanks to support of UNICEF and the Multi-Donor Education Fund (MDEF), the largest partnership contributing to the basic education sub-sector, which includes Australian Aid (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), European Union, UKaid, Norway and Denmark. Through this partnership, 1 million children have benefitted from school books and supplies, and 5400 schools were supported with school kits and recreation kits. From 2011 to 2013, UNICEF invested over $57 million US dollars in the education sector.
Working with MDEF partners, along with other development partners – Japan, Switzerland, Germany, UNESCO, ADB, British Council and the World Bank – UNICEF is supporting the reform of the Education sector, led by the Ministry of Education. This is an unprecedented opportunity to improve the quality of education across Myanmar, and significant progress is being made to implement changes to policy, curriculum, and teacher support, which should improve children’s access to quality schools nationally.
Although much progress has been made by the Government with support from partners, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that the reforms address and respond to the needs of all children, especially children who are living with disabilities, who are living in remote areas, who do not speak Myanmar language at home, who are poor and/or working and who are affected by conflict and emergencies.
“We must not forget children whose right to education is challenged by poverty, emergencies, disability and discrimination” said Mr. Bainvel. “Education should be inclusive of all children – and the reforms must consider the needs of the most vulnerable who do not have easy access to schools.” Mr Bainvel continued.
UNICEF would like to encourage the Government to continue its work to ensure the quality and accessibility of education for all children in Myanmar by further improving support to teachers, by developing and reinforcing pro-poor policies towards education and by continuing to increase budget allocations to the education sector. In addition, exciting new efforts to decentralize the management of education processes at state, township and community levels should be further strengthened so that the combined efforts from all stakeholders across Myanmar can ensure all children are able to enjoy their rights to the best quality education.
“Everyone has a role to play in Myanmar’s education reform. We need to do more to build demand for inclusive and equitable education reforms so that all girls and boys have access to and complete primary education” Mr. Bainvel concluded. [Ends]
UNICEF in Myanmar