FORMAL COLLEGE EDUCATION FACES SETBACKS IN BURMA
Sittwe, 18 April 02: The State Peace and Development Council junta of Burma have lately changed the policy of entrance to universities and colleges so that the newly matriculated students with higher marks will be permitted to pursue their higher education through the correspondence course, according to our correspondent quoting an unnamed university teacher in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan (Rakhine) State in the western part of Burma.
Since the popular uprising in 1988 that left the formal education sector in doldrums in its wake, the ruling Burmese junta has time and again kept the educational institutions shut for unease in the campus that might trigger bigger demonstrations and anti-junta movement. When the educational institutions were finally opened in the middle of the 90s, the junta kept the student hostels shut for fear of renewed demonstrations and studentsí movement. Moreover the sessions in colleges and universities got jammed and examinations had to be taken through crash courses en mass. The closure sine die of educational institutions in 1996 after the unease in the campus and student uprising in the Yangon (Rangoon) University worsened the already deteriorating situation in the education sector, necessitating for examinations en mass for all the students in their final years of graduation so that whoever sat for the exams had to be given auto-promotions en mass without proper evaluation of the papers.
At present whoever wants to pursue higher education has to stay as a paying guest among the private households in the college towns. With the increase in the price of daily necessities, the cost of food and lodging has gone beyond what an average student could afford, which has compelled most of the students to resort to the distance learning method popularly known as correspondence course.
The higher demand for the correspondence course has raised new concerns for the educational authorities and to tackle the situation, new rules have been enacted so that for pursuing the correspondence course the students are now required to get at least 50% marks in each of the subjects they are examined. For the regular daytime courses students with poorer marks are allowed to enroll for graduation.
Besides, the classes in colleges and universities are seldom taken regularly due to inadequate number and questionable skill of the teachers, making the students shy away from attending the classes regularly.
Another cause for the increased demand for the correspondence course is that, as most of the students have to work for earning money for their educational expenses due to reduced circumstances of their parents, they cannot take the normal daytime courses.
There have been a number of engineering and medical colleges opened solely for the members of the armed forces families which offer high level of education while the general people have been left with substandard education run by unskilled and unfit teachers causing large-scale discontent among the public, according to a concerned guardian of a daytime student. #