March 3-9, 2008 Myanmar's first international weekly © Volume 21, No. 408

HR key to development

By Minh Zaw
A Buddhist monk takes pictures of the fresh graduates after a convocation ceremony at Yangon University earlier this year. According to government officials the literacy rate in Myanmar is more than 90 percent.

FOR a poor nation to progress to a developed nation, the use and improvement of human resources is as important as the utilisation of natural resources.

Developed countries have moved away from relying on natural resources for growth and have instead focused on the knowledge economy. Services rather than manufacturing driving continued development.

In Myanmar, the government has improved its higher education system so it is harmonised internationally and can build up the number of trained professionals across various sectors. Accordingly, the educational policy for the higher education is accessibility, quality and diversity.

Each year more than 500,000 students who matriculated enrol in Myanmar’s different universities, according to their scores. About 2400 top-scoring students are given the chance to attend the Institute of Medicine’s six-year course, which is the most popular in the country.

Students missing the chance to study medicine can attend the dental, pharmacy, nursing, basic health and traditional medicine courses, which together accept another 2000 students annually.

The next most popular courses are at engineering, computers and marine universities, with courses often providing jobs internationally. These universities accept more than 25,000 students a year.

Languages are also popular, depending on the foreign companies operating in Myanmar. The higher salaries paid by foreign companies encourage matriculation students to join universities offering Foreign Languages. Popular courses are English, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and French.

Students who want to work with animals, often in the remote areas in Myanmar, can study veterinary science courses, which accept 100 students a year. Also, the Institute of Agriculture accepts about 300 students and the Institute of Forestry about 50 students a year.

Other students study at science or art universities, which offer a wide range of subjects.

Since the 2001-2002 academic year the government has introduced various diplomas and masters courses to give students knowledge in business and computer-related subjects – useful for many jobs in Myanmar.

More than 700,000 students are now attending the 156 universities in Myanmar, which employ more than 10,000 teachers. About 13,000 students are also enrolled in one or two-year business-related courses, offered by the universities under the human resource development program. In the 20 years from 1988 to 2008 the total number of graduates from Myanmar universities is about 1.5 million.

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