A proposal from Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to create a regulatory team to oversee the refurbishment of Yangon Arts and Science University in Hledan has been approved over the objections of the deputy minister for education.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi argued in the Pyithu Hluttaw on Friday, November 9 that Yangon University should be upgraded into an educational hub offering undergraduate courses because it already has the infrastructure to be a top university.
Her proposal was seconded by Daw Dwe Bu of Injayan, U Khin Maung Yi of Ahlone and U Ohn Kyaing of Mahaaungmyay and passed 248 votes to 64, despite the deputy minister telling representatives there was no need to create the supervisory team.
The motion was supported by most Tatmadaw representatives, who hold 25 percent of seats.
“We want to raise the quality [of higher education] rather than quantity. … To the best of my knowledge, education of younger generations is relatively low, compared to that of older generations. It is rare anywhere in the world that educational levels are lower than those of 20 years ago. This implies that our education system has gone in the utterly wrong direction,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.
“Based on the clarification of the [deputy minister for education], the ministry seems to have focused on postgraduate programs … [but] it is questionable how there can be qualified postgraduate students without qualified undergraduate students,” she said.
The motion proposed forming a regulatory team comprising officials from the Ministry of Education, members of hluttaw committees and commissions and experts in specific subject areas.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said the proposal had already been discussed by the hluttaw committee on education. “It will be more effective if we start at Yangon University. In the past, Yangon University could compete with other international universities. But now I can honestly say that there is no international-standard university in our country,” she said.
“I don’t mean to renovate only the buildings of the university but also its courses and teaching methods. A university should be oriented towards its students.”
She added that international donors had shown significant interest in helping to revive Myanmar’s education sector but most wanted to know precisely how funds would be managed and what they would be used for.
Donors are concerned their aid will not be effective if it is allocated too thinly but a plan to revive Yangon University would win their support because it has existing infrastructure and a good reputation, she said.
“If we can build a single high-quality university with donors’ support then they will be more encouraged to help with other projects,” she said.
“Some world-leading universities are ready to help with this kind of program. … We can get the project moving very quickly if everyone collaborates and gets involved.
“The donors will be less inclined to help if we delay … so there is a need to organise a supervisory team led by the Union Government to renovate Yangon University to be a well-rounded international university. I believe that our people also want to see it once again become an outstanding university.”
Translated by Thit Lwin and Zar Zar Soe