A young Burmese boy learns to write in a kindergarten class. Photo by UN Photo on flickr.

In the 1980s Pyone Myat Thu’s family of academics left Burma for a better life. Now in the face of massive reform, the ANU postdoctoral fellow argues that education is the key to unlocking the country’s vast potential.

And she also has some ideas on how the Burmese diaspora, spread across the four corners of the globe, can use their own education to help drive change in the county.

Writing for the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, Pyone notes that in the wake of the nation-wide student uprisings in August 1988, schools, technical colleges and tertiary institutions were closed leaving the education sector neglected “for as long as anyone cares to remember”.

“There is a need to improve standards of basic education, and to make education more inclusive of Myanmar’s diverse ethnic groups,” writes Pyone.

“In addition, there is a shortage of teachers, limited teacher training and instructional materials, poor infrastructure, lack of funds and big obstacles to academic freedom.

“But in June 2013, a milestone was achieved with the semi-civilian Myanmar government initiating the revitalisation of the education system.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi leads the Parliament’s Higher Education Law Committee in drafting the higher education bill. She sees the overall process as being more than the modernisation of the education sector, but a means to ‘reinvigorate our society’.”

Check out Pyone’s full article at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.