Myanmar families value education; however, low enrolment, poor attendance, and high dropout rates are indicative of low quality education, unhappy school experiences and poor learning outcomes. The Myanmar government has been trying to reduce the dropout rate through the provision of school supplies, no fees, free textbooks, and developing an education reform process. According to current statistics, between 2006 and 2011, primary level dropout rate in rural is 13.90% and in urban areas, that figure is 1.90%. However, there is an upward trend of children dropping out in primary school. Although basic education is officially free, many families in poor and remote areas cannot afford additional exercise books and stationery, uniforms and unexpected fees for their day to day schooling. Many of these families also rely on income from their children’s labour to get by.
The particular needs of children with disabilities, street children, those in conflict with the law and affected by armed conflict need close attention, as many lack access to regular formal education. Ethnic minority children are also known to struggle in school as they are made to learn in a language they do not understand. Children are generally unprepared for primary school, contributing to the high dropout rates. This is partially due to the low uptake of pre-primary education in the country, a proven means of smooth transition into the formal education system.
Access to quality education is particularly difficult for children in conflict areas and for those displaced as a result of conflict, natural disaster or economic migration. There is also a need for ‘second-chance’ education opportunities for large numbers of children who are above the age for normal primary school but who still have both a need and a right to basic education.
What we do:
Save the Children supports the development and improvement in the quality of early childhood education, that helps engage children at an early age and prepare them for primary education. The programme aims to play a key role in significantly increasing the number of children – particularly from the poorest communities in Myanmar – who access and complete their primary education, bringing new opportunities for children in Myanmar.
To reach more children in remote communities, Save the Children established mobile early childhood education teams to provide learning activities through structured play for young children that prepare them for primary school education. These teams also importance of early years of children lives for parents through parenting education sessions.
As the current environment in Myanmar is one of rapid change, a Comprehensive Education Sector Review (CESR) is also underway. Save the Children is actively engaged in this process, as well as in the development of Multi-sectoral early childhood care and development policy. Given the limited access which NGOs and INGOs have had to government schools, it is hoped that this will provide a useful opportunity to engage in the formal sector.
For out of school youth, Save the Children currently supports them through community learning circles integrating with vocational and life skills knowledge.