Teachers at an educational workshop held at No. 1 High School in Maungdaw. (Photo - Pyan Hlwar)

Myat Win Kyaw | DMG
January 6, Yangon

The Myanmar Teachers’ Federation says it won’t assist in the upcoming 2020 election if the government does not backtrack on plans to increase the length of the academic year at basic education schools, leveling its ultimatum in a statement released on January 5.

The statement said the federation opposes the planned change to the end of the school year, from February to March. It went on to assert that officials including the Union Minister for Education had continually ignored suggestions from the ground level.

Dr. Zaw Myo Hlaing, secretary of the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation, said teachers would continue to do their jobs in the classroom but would not assist in other tasks not associated with their original teaching responsibilities, such as working for the 2020 general election.

He said the current curriculum is drawn up for only 36 weeks – to the end of February – and insisted that increasing the schooling period would not significantly benefit students.

He added that under the new proposed schedule there would only be five days of classes in March, not providing much additional teaching time, and would just require that exams normally held in February be pushed back to March.

“Actually, it won’t increase the learning period. The Grade 4, 8 and 10 exams will come first. Students from other grades don’t need to go to school. And exams for all other grades will be in March, which will create a burden for teachers. And students will have to suffer due to the weather,” Dr. Zaw Myo Hlaing said.

But Education Minister Dr Myo Thein Gyi told journalists on January 2 that the reason the school period was being increased was so that parents could have more time to focus on their businesses.

“What the minister said is not related with education,” Dr. Zaw Myo Hlaing offered in rebuttal.

The Myanmar Teachers’ Federation statement said the Ministry of Education ignored the difficulties for teachers, parents and students when it decided to increase the school year. The decision-making process went against democratic principles and had damaged the image of the elected government, it added.

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