July 27, 2017
Children look at the large illustrations in a textbook
On June 1, 2017, delivery of an unprecedented new style of textbook began for approximately 1.3 million Grade 1 children throughout Myanmar. JICA cooperated in development of the textbooks to help children think and learn for themselves.
"I like the colorful textbooks. I like to count numbers in Math, and draw pictures in Art," said one boy. Teachers in the classrooms praised the books, saying "The children are more interested than I expected in this new style that has more back-and-forth with the teacher. They're even completely fine with giving their opinions." Comments from school principals include "The textbooks are extremely easy to understand, and the children now take the initiative themselves to participate in class."
A child receives a new textbook
This initiative is part of the Project for Curriculum Reform at Primary Level of Basic Education (CREATE) technical cooperation that JICA has implemented since 2014. CREATE supports the development of curriculum, textbooks and teachers’ guides in all subjects (Myanmar language, English, mathematics, science, social studies, physical education, morality and civics, life skills, performing arts and visual arts) for all grades (one to five) at the primary level.
When the textbooks were being developed, emphasis was placed on maintaining the values that have been important to the people of Myanmar and respecting diversity. Another aim of the new textbooks is to enable children to learn to observe things with their own eyes, think, communicate and enjoy learning with a sense of curiosity. To allow teachers to support this, teachers’ guides were developed and distributed to the teachers, and training for in-service teachers as well as education colleges is being conducted.
Children enjoy looking through a textbook
The new curriculum and textbooks are challenging for teachers too
The new curriculum and textbooks also require teachers to implement reforms. One teacher commented, "The new textbooks require preparation for class so it takes more time and effort than before. It's tough, but I think I’ll get used to it." However, many said things like "The guide gives a clear objective and method for each chapter and each class, so it’s very easy to understand" and "The training was very useful. I was able to learn in advance about problems that could occur."
Expectations and assessments of the project from the Myanmar side are high as well. Union Minister of Education Myo Thein Gyi said "Although the school enrollment rate has improved, there are various problems with the quality of education. We lack sufficient personnel to revise the curriculum and textbooks, so I am grateful for JICA's support." Regarding the new textbooks, he said "They are attractive and good for the children."
A class checks whether everyone received textbooks
In addition, he said "Primary education is the foundation for everything," and that, with a solid foundation, students move forward adding secondary education, vocational training and higher education.
Future plans for the project are to create textbooks and teachers’ guides for grades two through five, one grade each year, by 2021, and to develop teaching materials to help education colleges produce new teachers who can teach the new curriculum.