Myanmar’s Education Reforms

A pathway to social justice?

Marie Lall

ISBN: 9781787353695

Publication: November 02, 2020

What is this?
This book reviews the state of education in Myanmar over the past decade and a half as the country is undergoing profound albeit incomplete transformation. Set within the context of Myanmar’s peace process and the wider reforms since 2012, Marie Lall’s analysis of education policy and practice serves as a case study on how the reform programme has evolved. Drawing on over 15 years of field research carried out across Myanmar, the book offers a cohesive inquiry into government and non-government education sectors, the reform process, and how the transition has played out across schools, universities and wider society. It casts scrutiny on changes in basic education, the alternative monastic education, higher education and teacher education, and engages with issues of ethnic education and the debate on the role of language and the local curriculum as part of the peace process. In so doing, it gives voice to those most affected by the changing landscape of Myanmar’s education and wider reform process: the students and parents of all ethnic backgrounds, teachers, teacher trainees and university staff that are rarely heard. Marie Lall argues that, despite a commitment to greater equality and equity expressed in the Ministry of Education’s policy documents, Myanmar has missed a historic opportunity to make use of education reform to engage with deep-seated social injustices. Inequalities persist in the long-term outcomes for poorer sections of society and between the majority Bamars and ethnic nationality communities. This is the portrait of a country constrained by internal tensions and competing international priorities that serve to divert the professed course towards social justice.

Marie Lall is Professor of Education and South Asian Studies at the UCL Institute of Education.

List of figures and tables

List of abbreviations



1. The state of education, pre-reform

2. Education reform and effects on basic education

3. The alternative: Monastic education

4. Higher education: Towards international standards in a neoliberal world

5. Teacher education and training: Is changing practice possible?

6. Ethnic education: Language and local curriculum issues

7. Ethnic education: Recognising alternative systems run by ethnic armed organisations

Conclusion: Whither social justice in Myanmar?



Format: Open Access PDF

1 line drawing, 19 colour illustrations, and 5 B&W tables

Copyright: © 2021

ISBN: 9781787353695

Publication: November 02, 2020

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