Myanmar govt to combat unofficial tuition

YANGON - Although there has been no objection among students to the unofficial tuition system, the government plans to combat the use of unofficial tuition to gain privileged treatment from teachers, said Dr Yin Yin Nwe, a leader of President's Education Advisory Team.

In Myanmar, students face discrimination on the grounds of whether their parents paid unofficial tuition, or bribes, to their teachers.

"We are going to eradicate the individual tuition system," said Dr Yin Yin Nwe.

She added, "At present, the Ministry of Education faces widespread criticism. But the Ministry is now starting to change its work procedures by implementing a compulsory education system for the first time at the primary and middle school levels, reducing of 25 per cent of syllabus, extending new school buildings and appointing more teachers."

"There has been bribery and corruption in every sector across the nation. However, the education sector is not like other sectors. Currently, teachers face several challenges, including having to teach up to 70 students at a time. Teachers are often assigned two simultaneous classes due to a lack of personnel at schools. That's why students rely on unofficial tuition, which results in corruption and favouritism. We need to nurture many new teachers," said Dr Yin Yin Nwe.

In some well-known schools in Yangon, the parents have to pay unofficial fees of about Ks 1 million (US$1,290) for admission and give gifts to teachers in exchange for preferential treatment.

Thus, teachers often discriminate against students depending on the sizes of their gifts.

Such bribery, she said, mostly takes place in larger cities in Myanmar.

Dr Yin Yin Nwe recommended increasing salaries for teachers, especially those who work in far-flung areas, in order to combat bribery in schools. She also said curriculum should help students develop critical thinking abilities.