Elementary students in a classroom at the public school Wolfgang Kaehler/Getty Images

Educating for Myanmar’s Future

After a half-century of neglect under military rule, Myanmar's education system has fallen apart. Prospects for sustaining the country's fragile political transition hinge not just on the resolution of the Rohingya crisis in Rakhine State, but also on the country's progress on ensuring access to quality schools for all students.

GENEVA – The violence that has ravaged Myanmar’s Rakhine State underscores the challenges the country faces on its bumpy road from military rule to democracy. The country is confronting a deep crisis, and urgent action is desperately needed to prevent further violence and assist the huge numbers of refugees and internally displaced people. To address the political, socioeconomic, and humanitarian challenges fueled by the crisis, the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, chaired by Kofi Annan, recommends urgent and sustained action on a number of fronts to prevent violence, maintain peace, and foster reconciliation.

While global attention has rightly focused on how to end the attacks on Muslim Rohingya, many other, more systemic fixes are critical to Myanmar’s long-term stability. Education reform is one of the most important.

In late August, I was in Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s new capital, with the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity. The Education Commission, as we are known, was there to present findings from our latest report, The Learning Generation, and to share ideas with the country’s leadership on paying for education and improving outcomes. We met with Aung San Suu Kyi, the government’s de facto leader, and Myo Thein Gyi, the education minister.

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