Thursday, August 17, 2017

Kindergarten curriculum gets a reboot

A new kindergarten curriculum encouraging creative thinking will be introduced for the 2016-17 academic year, according to the Ministry of Education.

“We are changing the learning system to advance intellectual and creative thinking,” said a high-ranking official involved in the Comprehensive Education Sector Review (CESR) who asked not to be named.

Music, sport and storytelling are all included in the curriculum which will be taught in all states and regions.

“The new curriculum is not a learning-by-heart system. Independent thinking will be encouraged,”according to the official.

Myanmar, English and mathematics will not be taught in kindergarten anymore and the young children will no longer have to sit for exams, according to the Ministry of Education.

Ninety thousand kindergarten teachers will be trained in the new method which is part of the “K-12” education plan. The Department of Educational Planning and Training will conduct teacher training around the country from January to May.

“The Department of Basic Education selects teachers to attend the central stage tutorial training. We will teach them how to teach the prescribed textbook and workbook, as well as the new teaching method more generally,” said U Tun Kyine, from the planning and training department.

Currently, the ministry is in the final stage of tutorial trainings for teachers and a week-long training will be held in Yangon and Mandalay education colleges, according to the CESR official.

The kindergarten through 12th standard curriculum is also used in other ASEAN and Southeast Asian countries.

Before military rule, Myanmar had one of the better education systems in Southeast Asia. Decades of mismanagement and under-funding, however, relegated the education sector to one of the worst in the region. Textbooks were used to disseminate military propaganda and critical thinking was discouraged. As the education system begins to recover, problems remain with access, quality and retention, and the curriculum has been criticised for an over-reliance on memorisation.

A review of the education system was started under the government of President U Thein Sein, and the budget for education significantly increased: from less than 1 percent to about 7pc for the 2016-17 financial year.

In his final address to the Union Parliament on January 29, President U Thein Sein called education reform one of his government’s hallmarks of success, and specifically cited education spending that increased from K300 billion to K1692 billion.

“Related to school education, there are also plans to include in the curriculum civic education and practices, behaviours and attitudes that promote social good. We did all this with the vision of building a nation with peaceful, calm and pleasant people where goodwill, compassion, unselfish joy flourishes,” he said.

Translation by Emoon