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First Joint Education Sector Working Group Meeting Reviews Rapid Assessment Findings to Date

Yangon, 13 December 2012: The Joint Education Sector Working Group Meeting (JESWG) met for the first time on today in Yangon to review the preliminary findings of the first phase of the Ministry of Education’s much-anticipated Comprehensive Education Sector Review (CESR), the Rapid Assessment. The JESWG, led by the Ministry of Education, with the partnership support of UNICEF and AusAID as Co-chairs, is providing strategic direction to the CESR process.

In a thorough-going review of the whole sector, including non-formal, technical and vocational education and training and higher education, as well as basic and early childhood education, the CESR is examining finance, policy, legislation, and management issues to identify priority areas for policy improvement and strategic planning. The inaugural JESWG meeting marks an important shift toward closer cooperation between the government and development partners to improve Myanmar's education system.

The Meeting, chaired by Dr Myo Thein Gyi, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Basic Education 1, Ministry of Education in Yangon, and Co-Chaired by the Representatives of UNICEF and AusAID, heard that the education budget has more than doubled over the past four years, and according to the estimation, the proportion of public spending on education has also increased from 30% of total education spending in 2009/10 to 40% this year, with the remaining 60 percent still being met from private spending.

While increased funds have enabled the achievement of the Ministry’s target of one textbook per primary pupil, the poor quality of the books means that they barely last one full academic year. The content is also extremely outdated, and requires a thorough overhaul. By extending a book’s life from one to three years, only 40 million instead of 120 million books would need to be printed over three years, and the amount saved could be spent on raising quality.

These and other key findings will help shape improved education policy and planning, some of which reforms will start immediately, and others that will be developed over the coming two years.

In his Opening Remarks, H.E. Dr Myo Thein Gyi expressed the Ministry’s appreciation for the strong support extended to the CESR so far, and emphasised that all partners share a common vision for all children, youths and adults in Myanmar to access a quality education at every level of the sector, as the key to future national development, democratisation and social harmony.

The meeting also agreed that the voices of the people must be heard throughout the CESR process with individuals from all walks of society able to share their views

Mr. Bertrand Bainvel, Representative of UNICEF, praised the Ministry’s leadership in conducting the Review, and also in establishing the Joint Education Sector Working Group. “This first JESWG meeting marks a pivotal moment where we express our joint commitment, duty, and responsibility to ensure that all children in Myanmar are able to enjoy their rights to a quality education”, he said. “Everyone I meet, everywhere, has the same message, that all children should urgently gain access to the quality of education their parents had, and catch up with neighbouring countries”, Mr Bainvel said. He encouraged other sectors to adopt the Education Ministry’s model for building a collaborative partnership between government, development partners and civil society for greater aid effectiveness and results for the children of Myanmar.

Mr. Michael Hassett, Head of AusAID in Yangon, noted that the year had been one of extraordinary change, and commended the Ministry of Education for taking the lead in establishing a joint platform for strategic discussion on education policy. ‘The JESWG is a model example of how the Government and Development Partners are working together in a coordinated way to maximize development results’, he said, citing the doubling of public funding to the sector, increased funding for free textbooks for primary students as recent examples of progress. ‘We particularly welcome the emphasis on consultation with local people and communities to ensure that the CESR process meets the expectations of all members of society’.

In addition to Ministry of Education officials from a broad range of departments, the meeting was also attended by representatives of the Union Ministries of Science and Technology, Health, National Planning and Economic Development, and Finance and Revenue, as well as the Attorney General’s Office. Other development partner agencies represented were ADB, the British Council, Burnet Institute, DFID, EU, JICA, Save the Children, and UNESCO. Two seats at the JESWG are also reserved for local NGO representation, and the meeting agreed on follow up actions to reach out to local groups to ensure that these places can be taken up in future. 

To ensure continued progress under the CESR, the meeting also agreed on key actions on the budget and plans for the Review's next phase, which will conduct more detailed analysis. The Rapid Assessment will complete its findings by the end of January 2013. A national consultation process will follow, in which stakeholders from the government, civil society and elsewhere will have a chance to participate in the sector review process and shape its recommendations. The recommendations will inform development of much-needed policy changes and a fully costed strategic plan for the whole sector by 2014.

For more information please contact:

Joint Education Sector Working Group (JESWG) Secretariat

Daw Tin Tin Shu, CESR Task Manager, or Dr Maurice Robson, CESR Office,
426 Pyay Rd, Kamayut, Yangon
PH: +95-1-234285-7

Ye Lwin Oo
Communication Officer, UNICEF
PH: +95-1-375527 Ext 1448

Nang NilarTun
Senior programme officer, AusAID Myanmar
PH: +95-1-251810 Ext 230



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