Interview: Sardar Umar Alam
How is the Capacity Development for Education for All (CapEFA) programme enhancing management skills in the Ministry of Education (MoE)?
SARDAR UMAR ALAM: In 2012, Myanmar took the overdue decision to reform the education sector, and thus to improve access to and quality of education. Through CapEFA and other education sector programmes, UNESCO strengthened national capacity in the priority areas of policy formulation, decentralised education planning, education costs, monitoring and evaluation, financial planning and management. We appreciate the government’s lead in the reform process and have supported the MoE by providing tools in order to strengthen the process, as per international standards. UNESCO’s focus has been to increase the MoE’s efficiency and effectiveness in delivery quality. We have noticed that the steps taken by the ministry have been equally rewarding, as they have restructured the ministry and realigned departments. This includes setting up the new Department for Teacher Education, and the current focus on setting up an Education Management Information System for Myanmar. This, in turn, will empower state and township level officers, who are at the forefront of managing education and education investments, to better prepare plans for school management. UNESCO will continue to support MoE in developing monitoring and evaluation mechanisms that would further strengthen their decision-making, accountability and transparency.
What steps will the Comprehensive Education Sector Review (CESR) take to ensure the long-term development of Myanmar’s school system?
ALAM: Myanmar’s decision to conduct the CESR was strategic and timely. Based on recommendations, Myanmar conducted a rapid assessment of the education sector, followed by more in-depth diagnostic studies of sub-sectors. There had been a previous information gap within the sector and a lack of studies available on the sub-sectors. This included information on higher education, basic education, non-formal education, and technical vocational education and training. The consultations, studies and assessments provided evidence-based findings, and allowed Myanmar to identify challenges, gaps and issues within the education sector, to prioritise certain areas, and to determine what needed to be done to improve the sector. With this information, the ministry and its development partners are preparing the National Education Strategic Plan, which is one of the key documents for the ministry to implement.
What is the relationship between civil society and development agencies that are working to develop Myanmar’s education sector?
ALAM: Myanmar’s civil society is emerging stronger, and this is a very reassuring and positive development. In the past, civil society filled many gaps in the education sector, and it continues to do so. In particular, their involvement in education sector reform has been recognised and acknowledged by all, and UNESCO, along with other development partners, has continuously advocated for consultations with all stakeholders, including civil society, in prioritising the education agenda for Myanmar. For any education reform process to be successful and meaningful, it is mandatory that state and civil society work in coherence and harmony. This helps them not only to understand the broader context, but also to jointly prepare and discuss solutions that address challenges, so that education policies have an impact in improving the human resource developments of the country. I would also like to emphasise the important roles that the private sector can play in skills development, putting education to work and creating more opportunities for youth subsequent generations. It is a pivotal development that we see more result-oriented public-private partnerships in the education sector.
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