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Myanmar Country Report: Language, Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative

Technical Report

Myanmar Country Report: Language, Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative

MYANMAR Country Report
Language Education and
Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO)
19 Phra Atit Road
Chanasongkram, Phra Nakorn
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
E-mail: eapro@unicef.org
Website: www.unicef.org/eapro
Tel: +662-356-9499 Fax: +662-280-3563
The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this publication do not imply the
expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNICEF concerning the legal status of any country, territory,
city or area of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
The presentation of the data and information as contained in this document, and the opinions expressed therein,
do not necessarily reflect the position of UNICEF.
UNICEF is committed for its wide dissemination and to this end, welcomes enquiries of reprints, adaptations,
republishing or translating this or other publications.
Myanmar Country Report: Language, Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
© UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office 2016
Any part of this report maybe freely reproduced with the appropriate acknowledgement
Printed in Thailand
Cover photos: Joe Lo Bianco, 2014
Malaysia Country Report
Language, Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
Myanmar
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Myanmar Country Report
Contents
Acknowledgements iv
Acronyms v
List of figures v
1. Executive summary 1
1.1 LESC activities: Facilitated Dialogues 2
1.2 Processes for alleviating tension and conflict 4
1.3 Outcomes 5
1.4 Recommendations 5
1.5 Further developments 6
2. The UNICEF Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy (PBEA) Programme
and the LESC Initiative 7
3. Language and conflict 9
3.1 Language rights 11
3.2 Multilingual Education (MLE) 12
3.3 Legal framework 13
4. LESC in Myanmar 14
4.1 LESC and the Comprehensive Education Sector Review (CESR) 14
4.2 A conceptual outline 15
5. Conceptual approach to engagement with LESC activities 18
5.1 Language status planning 18
5.2 Solving language challenges 19
5.3 Training in language planning 19
5.4 Public education on contentious issues 19
5.5 Mitigating conflict 20
5.6 Writing guidelines and developing theory and understanding 20
5.7 Official document analysis 21
6. Facilitated Dialogues 22
6.1 Language Policy Forum, Eastern Burma Community Schools 22
6.2 Language, Education and Social Cohesion Facilitated Dialogue
Mawlamyine, Mon State, Myanmar 28
6.3 Language, Education and Social Cohesion Facilitated Dialogue
Naypyidaw, Myanmar 34
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
7. Processes for alleviating language challenges 38
8. Outcomes 40
9. Recommendations 42
10. Mon case study 44
10. 1 Mon language and identity 44
10. 2 The Mon State 46
10. 3 Language policy challenges in Mon State 47
11. Additional developments 48
12. References 50
13. Appendices 53
Appendix 1: Concept note: Language, Education and Social Cohesion
Initiative, Myanmar (English and Myanmar versions) 54
Appendix 2: Organizations and offices consulted for the LESC Myanmar Initiative 69
Appendix 3: Agenda Mae Sot Facilitated Dialogue 73
Appendix 4: MINE press release (English and Myanmar versions) 78
Appendix 5: Ethnic Language and Education Declaration (MINE) (English and
Myanmar versions) 83
Appendix 6: MINE working action plan 119
Appendix 7: Agenda Mawlamyine Facilitated Dialogue (May) 125
Appendix 8: Mon State policy and planning preamble and press release 129
Appendix 9: Agenda Mawlamyine Facilitated Dialogue (November) 133
Appendix 10: Feedback summary Mawlamyine Facilitated Dialogue (May) 134
Appendix 11: Agenda Naypyidaw Facilitated Dialogue (July) 137
Appendix 12: Feedback summary Naypyidaw Facilitated Dialogue 141
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Myanmar Country Report
Acknowledgements
The Myanmar Country Report on Language, Education and Social Cohesion Initiative, was developed
as part of the Language, Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative, a component of the UNICEF
EAPRO’s (East Asia and the Pacific Regional Office) Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy (PBEA)
Programme, which is a four-year global initiative (2012–2015/16) supported by the Government of the
Netherlands.
This paper contributes to PBEA Programme’s global outcomes 2 and 5: to increase institutional capacities
to supply conflict-sensitive education; and to generate and use evidence and knowledge in policies and
programming related to education, conflict and peacebuilding, respectively.
We have been honoured to partner with the University of Melbourne in this endeavour, especially with the
paper’s author, Prof. Joseph Lo Bianco, who is an established expert in language and literacy education,
and his university colleagues, Yvette Slaughter and Andrew Schapper, who provided valuable technical
assistance in editing the research paper.
Our sincere gratitude also goes to our colleagues in the Myanmar Country Office, especially to Cliff Meyers
(Chief of Education) and the LESC focal points, Malar San and Jane Davies, and other UNICEF Myanmar
colleagues. They facilitated successful coordination with the officials of the Ministry of Education of
the Union of Myanmar, as well as the series of productive consultations with learners, teachers, school
administrators, community leaders and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Their collective support
has been valuable to the discourse and development of this country report. In addition, we would like to
thank the large number of national and local stakeholders: the MoE officials from national to local level,
NGOs, civil society organizations (CSOs) and community leaders, who actively engaged in the field work
and Facilitated Dialogues conducted in the different parts of the country.
Enhanced quality of content could not have been attained in this paper without the expert advice and
guidance from the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) Regional Education Adviser, Jim
Ackers and the Publication Review Committee of UNICEF EAPRO. Overall support and encouragement
has been provided by UNICEF Headquarters PBEA Team and the Asia Pacific Multilingual Education
(MLE) Working Group.
Finally, a sincere thank you goes to the previous UNICEF EAPRO Regional Education Adviser, Cliff
Meyers, who had the vision of the LESC Initiative and guided it in its naissance and early years, and
to Teija Vallandingham, EAPRO Regional Education Specialist, for leading the Initiative and completing
the process during the last two years. Close overall management support was also provided by Vilasa
Phongsathorn and Fernando Balmaceda. Fernando Balmaceda ensured a quality completion of the
editing, layout and publication process of the reports.
The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official
position of UNICEF.
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
Acronyms
List of figures
ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations
CESR Comprehensive Education Sector Review (Myanmar)
CSOs Civil Society Organizations
EAPRO East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (UNICEF)
LESC Language, Education and Social Cohesion (EAPRO)
MINE Myanmar/Burma Indigenous Network for Education
MLE Multilingual Education
NGO Non-Governmental Organization
NPT Naypyidaw
PBEA Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy Programme (UNICEF)
UN United Nations
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund (formerly United Nations International
Children’s Emergency Fund)
Figure 1: Processes and outcomes of Facilitated Dialogues 40
Figure 2: Overview of policy development process 49
Figure 3: Myanmar language policy and documentation process 49
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
The EAPRO LESC Initiative was a component of UNICEF’s Learning for Peace, Peacebuilding, Education
and Advocacy (PBEA) Programme, a four-year global initiative (2012–2015/16), funded by the Government
of the Netherlands and designed to strengthen resilience, social cohesion and human security, to
encourage practical interventions to alleviate conflict and advance peace through the education sector,
as well as to support research into conflict analysis and information about education and peacebuilding.
The overall vision of PBEA is to strengthen policy and resilience in society, to foster social cohesion and
human security in countries at risk of conflict, experiencing conflict or recovering from conflict.
The research and activities of the LESC Initiative, designed and implemented by Prof. Joseph Lo Bianco,
of the University of Melbourne with the support of the Myanmar Country Office of UNICEF and three
country-wide partners, the Pyoe Pin programme of the British Council, the Nyein (Shalom) Foundation
and the Thabyay Education Foundation, alongside a large number of local education, civil society and
culture and language associations across states and districts, examined the role of language policy and
planning in education reform and peacebuilding. The key approach was participatory action research, a
method of working which makes use of deliberative processes to foster a culture of dialogue to help
solve problems in education.
At the heart of Myanmar society is a very complex sociolinguistic profile, comprising more than
approximately 135 spoken languages (Bradley 2015), along with sign languages, dialects and foreign
languages (Bradley 1997; Lewis, Simons, and Fennig 2013). The nature of cross-language bilingualism/
multilingualism, and knowledge of foreign languages, knowledge of and use of ‘proximal’ languages
(Chinese and Indian languages), are distributed in a highly variable pattern following the urban/rural
divide and shaped by education levels, occupation and mobility. As part of a general national reform
agenda whose principal aim is to raise economic and social development, Myanmar has embarked on a
Comprehensive Education Sector Review (CESR) to transform its education system.
An overarching objective of the LESC Initiative has been to foster a coordinated and comprehensive,
evidence-based approach to tackling problems in languages education, some of which have been
controversial for decades. This has involved early childhood education, primary schooling and post-
primary education, all cognisant of the sociolinguistic and ethnic diversity of Myanmar’s population and
its diverse ethno-linguistic groupings. The LESC activities have utilized concrete methods of language
planning to support multilingual education in ethnic minority languages, in Myanmar (also known as
Burmese) and in strategic foreign languages.
The findings and proposals arising from the LESC Initiative in Myanmar have been informed by rich,
participatory research and fieldwork activities. These include a large number of bilateral meetings and
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Executive summary
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Myanmar Country Report
focus groups, interviews, consultations and Facilitated Dialogues with many hundreds of individuals
belonging to over 150 organizations, institutions and governmental departments across the country (see
Appendix 2 for a listing of many of the participating organizations).
The above process represents a complex, multi-layered and long-term process of action-situated
research, whose aim has not been restricted to generation of knowledge, but has extended to
supporting local people and agencies in their reform agenda promoting peaceful coexistence after many
decades of continual conflict. This has required engaging a range of mechanisms and concepts that
more broadly inform and shape the research procedures being undertaken, for example, field testing
the viability and feasibility of likely recommendations before proposing them. In conceptualizing this
range of collaborative and participatory activities the chief researcher has drawn on a range of language
planning and policy concepts, itemized below and discussed throughout this report:
i. Language status planning (supporting local actors)
ii. Identifying language problems and seeking solutions (in research or dialogue)
iii. Training in language planning
iv. Public education on contentious issues
v. Mitigating conflict (through Facilitated Dialogues and mediation)
vi. Writing guidelines and developing theory and understanding
vii. Document analysis
This report provides an overview of the LESC Initiative in Myanmar, with a special focus on Mon state.
An extended discussion and analysis of the overall work of the LESC Initiative in Malaysia, Myanmar and
Thailand is available in a separate publication: Lo Bianco (2015) Synthesis Report Language, Education and
Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative in Malaysia Myanmar and Thailand, UNICEF, EAPRO, Bangkok, Thailand.
1.1 LESC activities: Facilitated Dialogues
The essential aim of ‘Facilitated’ Dialogues is to support groups debating, or contesting social issues to
canvas policy alternatives, especially when these are the cause of conflict, tension or policy paralysis.
Facilitated Dialogues have been developed in accordance with approaches to decision-making that are
influenced by ‘deliberative democracy’, which stresses the process of decision-making as much as the
final result. These are part of a surge in thinking about the limits of policymaking as it has been practiced
for many years in which policy is left exclusively to public officials or technical experts without involvement
from key community stakeholders. Four Facilitated Dialogues were conducted for the Myanmar LESC
Initiative, in Mae Sot (Thailand), Mawlamyine (two Facilitated Dialogues), and Naypyidaw. These dialogues
were designed and facilitated by Prof. Lo Bianco and have led to a major extension of the LESC Initiative in
Myanmar, when from late 2014 the UNICEF Myanmar office commissioned him to lead the preparation of a
‘peace promoting national language policy’.
1.1.1 Language Policy Forum, Eastern Burma Community Schools. Mae Sot, Thailand, 12–14
February 2014
The Mae Sot Facilitated Dialogue was attended by 68 representatives from 22 organizations representing
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
12 different ethnic groups. The participants explored a range of fundamental challenges, including what
communities envisioned for the educational and economic future for their children, their languages and
their culture, and their participation in Myanmar society. The Dialogue was conducted in six languages
and was highly innovative in its methods and successful in its outcomes (Michaels 2014).
Many significant achievements emerged from the Mae Sot Facilitated Dialogue, beginning with the
issuing of A Declaration of Ethnic Language and Education, drafted during the gathering, accompanied
by a press release issued shortly after the meeting, declaring the launch of a new organization, the
Myanmar/Burma Indigenous Network for Education (MINE). The press release introduced MINE as an
advocacy and action group for indigenous communities, and described its mission and petitions on behalf
of Myanmar’s many indigenous groups.
Some months later, building on the sense of agency fostered during the Dialogue and the skills and
knowledge of language planning and policy mechanisms they acquired, MINE members released a
bilingual English/Myanmar document, Ethnic Languages and Education Declaration, on 15 June 2014.
The document “describes the current situation of schooling for Indigenous children and youth in remote,
ethnic nationality areas of Myanmar/Burma and then sets out a framework of recommended actions to
be taken” (Appendix 5, p. 2).
A long-term working plan based on ongoing language planning and policy work and regular meetings
was also developed and released, focusing on advocacy for mother tongue education; multilingual
education; decentralization of educational decisions; intercultural education; policy decision-making and
participation; and all inclusive education.
1.1.2 Language, Education and Social Cohesion Facilitated Dialogue. Mawlamyine, Mon State,
Myanmar, 27–28 May 2014 (36 participants)
The Facilitated Dialogues conducted in May and November in Mawlamyine, Mon State, focused on the
specific sociolinguistic and education challenges of the state. The main and important outcome was a
widespread agreement that a specific state language planning and policy process would be beneficial
for the four main ethno-linguistic populations of Mon State (Mon, Pa’oh, Karen and Burmese speakers
and learners). The unique grouping of languages, the specific educational setting with its mix of school
systems and monastic education provision, and the relatively compact dimensions of the State suggested
that this could become a model of participation based ‘bottom up’ language policymaking. Some difficult
issues needed to be resolved in the Dialogues and so two teams of local writers, policy and technical
in nature, were formed. These met on a regular basis to develop the outline and priorities of the policy.
Both Mawlamyine Dialogues had the intention of exploring alternatives to the mandated use of Myanmar
as exclusive medium of instruction in state schools. Participants in the Dialogues and the writing teams
were drawn from a wide range of interested organizations, including government officials, researchers
and academics, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), representatives from minority language and culture
groups, women’s organizations, community development and non-formal education structures as well
as ministerial participation from the state parliament. An outstanding achievement resulting from the
Facilitated Dialogues and extensive commitment and work of those involved was a fully developed
consensus, despite considerable initial misgivings among some, and commitment towards the
adoption of a comprehensive multilingual language policy for the State. Participants shaped the future
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Myanmar Country Report
development of the policy by writing a ‘Mon State language policy preamble’, developed initially at the
May 2014 Dialogue and elaborated upon during the second, more technical Dialogue and extended by
the writing teams.
1.1.3 Language, Education and Social Cohesion Facilitated Dialogue. Naypyidaw, Myanmar,
29–30 July 2014 (26 participants)
The key objectives of the Naypyidaw Facilitated Dialogue were to provide a national perspective to
discussions of language policy emanating from local levels as in the Mon State Dialogues discussed
above. The July Dialogue comprised 26 representatives from a wide range of organizations and included
senior government officials from Planning and Training, Education, and Social Welfare departments;
language committees, and parliament; researchers and academics; CSOs, including language and
literacy groups, ethnic organizations and educational committees, as well as representatives from Non-
Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The facilitator provided research evidence on language learning
and education from different parts of the world and models of provision for complex multilingual
sociologies similar to the Myanmar setting. From these perspectives, inputs and recommendations
from participants discussion focused on questions of social cohesion; skills and competitive exams in
modern education; employment issues and external trade as linked to language policy; service delivery
in health and legal domains; and issues of international connections and relations concerning language
needs. These discussions formed the basis for the facilitator to propose a series of ‘principles’ to guide
language policy writing across Myanmar.
A significant outcome from the Naypyidaw Facilitated Dialogue was the persuasion of public officials that
a comprehensive multilingual language policy could be prepared in a collaborative way, with significant
national benefits in the education of minority children, improved social cohesion and greater impact on
peacebuilding through relationships between all sectors of society. Significant work was undertaken to
achieve the drafting of a set of policy principles and a preamble for a Union-wide language policy.
1.2 Processes for alleviating tension and conflict
Although language status and language education can often be a cause of tension and a threat to
social cohesion, one of the major outcomes of the LESC Initiative has been to highlight how language
questions are also a doorway to the resolution of social conflict, even when such conflict is not directly
associated with questions of language. In effect, language is more amenable to resolution than other
causes of tension such as religion, ethnicity and socio-economic disparities. Language-based tensions
are more amenable to dialogue-based resolution when this is supported through local and relevant
international research and exploration of practical school models of Multilingual Education (MLE) (For a
wider discussion of the link between language and conflict see Lo Bianco 2015, Synthesis Report on the
LESC Initiative in Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand).
The process for alleviating misunderstanding, frustration and anger which often arises in contest over limited
resources in education and language settings can be alleviated by exploring viable and transferable models
of practice from other settings, and though local innovation. Significant progress was made across State-
level, as well as Union-wide contexts in Myanmar, confirmed by the extension of the initial LESC Initiative,
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
the large number of participants engaged in exploring alternative courses of action, the collaborative nature
of these discussions, and the extremely positive evaluations given by participants of the outcomes of the
Dialogues. All this confirms that language problems and conflicts can be relieved through focused and
well-prepared interventions, particularly when framed in the general interest of enhancing social cohesion,
resilience and fostering national unity. The Facilitated Dialogues and other activities undertaken in Myanmar
have shown an extremely high level of success in addressing these by a method of examining realistically
achievable objectives against policy declarations and education documents and by exploring areas through
which language issues and tensions can be accommodated and facilitated.
1.3 Outcomes
There is considerable evidence from the LESC research that supports the notion that language status
and language education contribute to tension and sometimes conflict, at both a societal and educational
level (Lo Bianco 2015). The LESC Initiative has shown that language policy processes can play a vital
role in generating understanding of the perspective and position of one group of stakeholders for the
views of others, and even as far as full consensus, trust, and collaborative approaches to decision-
making and enactment, which can lead to greater educational outcomes for children and improve social
cohesion. The content and process of language problem alleviation, however, is dependent on focused
and well-prepared interventions and research-based guidance, negotiated through guided discussions
and collaborative processes of decision-making. In particular, the organization of the forum of safe, but
guided discussion through the Facilitated Dialogues:
• allowedforconstructiveandpositiverelationshipstobeformedbetweenmanystakeholders(several
of these have linked senior policy officials to indigenous community representatives for the first time);
• establishedadialoguespacewhereMLEwasdiscussed(thesediscussionswereframedasproblem-
solving through evidence and comparison of available models to support local innovation);
• createda sense ofownership and agencyaround languagesand education(this isclear fromthe
enthusiasm of participants to continue discussion, their active engagement with follow-up activities,
their flow on discussions within their own communities; their contribution of new ideas and their
evaluations and rankings of the various activities in confidential evaluation processes);
• stimulateda demandforpolicy developmentonthe partofgovernment(thishasledto theshared
convening of an international conference on language policy and peacebuilding in Mandalay, February
2016); and
• movedpast acrimoniousdebates beyondpast entrenched positions and towards constructiveand
deliberated common ground around education law reform and multilingual provision in education.
1.4 Recommendations
The most important outcomes emerging form the LESC Initiative are for the preparation of a peacebuilding
and social cohesion promoting national language policy for Myanmar and for the holding of an international
conference on language policy in multilingual and multicultural settings in Mandalay in February 2016.
The first of these outcomes can now build on a set of shared, agreed and endorsed principles known
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Myanmar Country Report
as the Naypyidaw (NPT) principles (see 6.3.1) which are the basis for the preparation of both state level
and national language policy, while the conference has seen extensive collaboration across Myanmar
society, from official to local levels, and across all ethnic groups, to jointly plan a new set of language
understandings for the country and new policy settings for their cultivation and management.
Building on the initial inputs of the LESC Initiative the main outcomes of these new initiatives should
include:
• ThedevelopmentofUnionlevellanguagepolicy
• The development of several state level language policies coordinated with the Union level policy
through the NPT principles (see 6.3.1)
• Thedevelopmentofmodelpoliciesforotherstatesanddistrictsofthecountrybasedontheabove
• Integrated implementation plans at state and Union levels, responding to a series of identied
language and communication challenges
• Asuiteofintegratedpolicydocuments,envisagedtoconsistoftwovolumes
• Documentedoutcomesfromtheconference,and
• Otherpublications and informationprovision,including researchreports,language maps, and other
material as required.
1.5 Further developments
The proposal to extend the original LESC Initiative, based on the recognized success of the initial LESC
project in Myanmar, was submitted to UNICEF in late 2014 and accepted in early 2015. A key objective
of the LESC extension is the preparation of a peacebuilding and social cohesion promoting national
language policy for Myanmar, which itself will consist of three key components:
1. Development of the language policy principles (NPT principles, see 6.3.1) through consultation with
the relevant working groups and the incorporation of feedback and questionnaire feedback and the
adaptation of these at state and locality levels.
2. Dialogues and consultations – this component of the project will involve carrying out
a. Facilitated Dialogues in a number of states
b. Union-wide Facilitated Dialogues; the first to seek feedback and discussion of draft principles for
language policy and their endorsement and a second dialogue to discuss, modify and endorse
the final policy draft
c. Field trips at the state level for policy input negotiations
d. Consultations in relation to a special needs component to the language policy.
3. The commissioning of four specialist inputs to inform the above steps through detailed papers
written by experts on a sociolinguistic map of the languages of Myanmar, English and its role in
Myanmar society, special needs and inclusive education provision, as well as a case study and photo
essay of MLE practices in Myanmar.
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
The Peace, Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy (PBEA) Programme is a four-year global initiative
(2012–2015/16) funded by the Government of the Netherlands and designed to strengthen resilience,
social cohesion and human security, to encourage practical interventions to alleviate conflict and advance
peace through the education sector, as well as to support research into conflict analysis and information
about education and peacebuilding. The overall vision of PBEA is to strengthen policy and resilience in
society, to foster social cohesion and human security in countries at risk of conflict, experiencing conflict
or recovering from conflict.
The focus of PBEA is twofold: first to encourage practical intervention (tools and methods) to alleviate
conflict, and second, to support research into conflict analysis (increasing understanding of the ways
in which education can hinder or support social cohesion). The overall vision is to strengthen policy
and resilience in society, to foster social cohesion and human security in countries at risk of conflict,
experiencing conflict or recovering from conflict. The strategic result and primary objective is to improve
the lives of children in conflict-affected contexts.
An overarching commonality for the LESC Initiatives is research exploring policy and planning, current
practices and prevailing attitudes and values related to language throughout education systems. The aim
of this research is to understand language issue and problems in their context in civil society, public policy
and the labour market so far as these condition and shape language and ethnicity issues and to develop
pragmatic intervention tools to alleviate conflict, introduce more effective and widely supported policies
and thereby improve the lives of children and communities.
In 2012, UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) commissioned a desk review of
existing documents on the relations between ethnicity (especially ethnic minorities), education (policies
and practices related to minorities and minority languages) and social cohesion/peacebuilding in three
countries – namely Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. Specifically, the desk review explored work on MLE
and mother tongue-based education; policies and practices relating to ethnicity and education; as well
as views and opinions of key stakeholders at national and local levels (see Lo Bianco 2015 for a detailed
description of this activity).
2
The UNICEF Peacebuilding,
Education and Advocacy (PBEA)
Programme and the LESC Initiative
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Myanmar Country Report
Building on this initial work, the LESC Initiative has involved an in-depth study of how language policies and
practices in education can promote social cohesion in Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. A key assumption
of all this work has been the imperative to make language policies responsive to local contexts and
purposes, with the aim of improving the lives of children and the wider community, to foster social
cohesion and harmony in place of tension, and to improve national communication. These goals are also
linked to national economies, since literacy, education and language capabilities support innovation in
technology, economic productivity and competitiveness. To this end, in conjunction with UNICEF country
offices and relevant governmental agencies, context-specific aims were identified in each country.
Facilitated Dialogue, Mawlamyine, May 2014
Credit: J. Lo Bianco
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
In highly multilingual and multiethnic Myanmar,
language status and language education are
often a cause, but also a consequence of
tension. The sociolinguistic profile of Myanmar
is very complex. The nation is divided into
seven states and seven regions. Chin, Kachin,
Kayah, Kayin, Mon, Rakhine and Shan states
are all largely populated by their corresponding
ethnic identities, although there is significant
overlap between the states. By contrast,
the regions – Ayeyarwady, Bago, Magway,
Mandalay, Sagaing, Tanintharyi and Yangon
– are populated predominantly by ethnic
Burmese. The major ethnicities in Myanmar
are Burman (68%), Shan (9%), Karen (7%),
Rakhine (4%), Chinese (3%), Indian (2%) and
Mon (2%). Based on a ruling by the State Law
and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) in
1988, there are 135 official ‘national races’ in
Myanmar.
The correspondence between the 135
ethno-linguistic groups, the official ‘national
races’ of Myanmar, and its languages is very
complex. As part of the process to support
a peace promoting and social cohesion
enhancing language policy detailed research
examination of this connection is being
assembled. At present it can be stated that
there are some 135 languages, but by some
estimates 116 languages.
Around 78 per cent of people speak Tibeto-
Burman languages, 10 per cent speak Tai-
3
Language and conflict
Map of Administrative Regions, Myanmar
Source: Aotearoa. Licensed under the Creative Commons
Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unreported license.
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Myanmar Country Report
Kadai languages and 7 per cent speak Mon-Khmer languages. There are seven main ‘ethnic’ language
clusters in Myanmar. These include Chin, Kachin, Kayah (Karenni), Kayin (Karen), Mon, Rakhine and
Shan, spoken by a combined number in excess of 23 million people. These ethno-linguistic groups are
predominantly based in, but not limited to, their correspondingly named State administrations. Other
important immigrant languages in Myanmar, many of which are the languages of descendants of colonial
administrators, include Chinese, Malay, Bengali and Sylheti, Hindu/Urdu, Tamil, Bisu, Eastern Tamang,
and Iu Mien (Bradley 2015; Lewis, Simons, and Fennig 2013; Watkins 2007).
Another group of about 11 languages can be identified with speaker populations exceeding 100,000 each.
Within this great diversity exist a large number of nested dialects and many highly variable multi-literate
realities, including many languages lacking orthographic standardization. The nature of cross-language
bilingualism/multilingualism, knowledge of foreign languages, and knowledge of and use of ‘proximal’
languages (Chinese and Indian languages) are distributed in a highly variable pattern of such as the urban/
rural divide, as well as being shaped by differing education levels, occupation and mobility (Bradley 1997;
2015; Lewis, Simons, and Fennig 2013).
The national language, Myanmar, is represented across the national territory, claiming 32 million speakers
but with highly variable rates of knowledge of its standard forms and literacy. The Burmese script is
used to write Myanmar language, Karen languages and Mon, which is a member of the Mon-Khmer
group of Austroasiatic languages spoken in Myanmar and Thailand (Lewis, Simons, and Fennig 2013).
Myanmar is the sole language of government administration and the mass media and overwhelmingly
the language of instruction for education. However, exceptions do exist for medium of instruction for
schooling including the use of English and Chinese in private schools and the use of mother tongues in
certain local contexts. The Myanmar Language Commission, a department of the Ministry of Education,
is responsible for the development of Myanmar. Broadly speaking, a distinction can be made between
the ethnic Burmese situated in the central areas of Myanmar who are predominantly monolingual, and
the multilingual and ethnically diverse peoples in the border areas, many of whom also know Burmese/
Myanmar language (Bradley 2015).
There are two important tensions which characterize the sociolinguistic profile in Myanmar. The first
is the drive to establish and maintain a Burman nationalist identity liberated from all colonial ties and
foreign interest. The second tension derives from the position of the plethora of minority languages
in relation to the notion of a singular Myanmar nation and the majority Burman ethnic group who
comprise around 68 per cent of the population (Watkins 2007). Language and ethnicity have been
central to violent civil conflicts in Myanmar’s recent history. Such conflicts have often arisen in response
to attempted creation of a singular Myanmar identity by centralized military governments. Ambiguity
towards the notion of a singular Myanmar identity can be explained, in part, by the boundaries of
the countries of the region only being fixed during the British colonial period. Many of the ethnic and
linguistic groups exist inside and outside the country, divided by the artificial imposition of national
boundaries (Watkins 2007).
Many decades of civil war and open conflict have been linked to demands by what are called ‘national
races’, the main indigenous/ethnic populations seeking various measures of autonomous governance,
with grievances linked to language and culture (Ganesan and Hlaing 2007). Denial of language and ethnic
rights by successive military governments has resulted in intergenerational educational and economic
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
inequalities and disadvantage for many of Myanmar’s minorities (Callahan 2003; Lall, and South 2014).
Aye and Sercombe (2014) identify an overarching national policy of ‘Myanmarization, or the enforcement
of a single national identity, of the large and geographically distinct main ethnic clusters. This has been
reinforced through constitutional measures, but recent developments have achieved some recognition
of a pluralist vision of the nation, and recognition of sub-national languages, a process in which the LESC
Initiative has played a significant role.
3.1 Language rights
Although English became the official language of Myanmar during British rule, indigenous groups were
all allowed to speak and learn their languages. During this time, writing systems for many languages
such as Chin, Kachin and Lahu were developed by missionaries. The first constitution of the Union of
Burma (1947) guaranteed that all citizens could practise their own cultures and religions. Public schools
taught in some of the major ethnic languages such as Chin, Karen, Kayah, Mon and Shan, but some
Buddhist monasteries and Christian churches taught in some of the smaller ethnic languages (Hlaing
2007).
In 1962, Burmese became the only language of instruction for university and pre-university classes
(except for English language classes). However, there was some allowance for the teaching of minority
languages at the early primary level, with the Ministry of Education publishing textbooks in a small range
of minority languages up until the early 1980s. While the government was not against ethnic minorities
possessing multiethnic identities, they were opposed to activities that impacted negatively on the
national unity they were striving to create. As a result, by the 1980s many schools had stopped teaching
in minority languages, owing in part to the complexities surrounding language, identity, compliance, a
lack of education finances and an inability to staff the programmes. In some instances though, local
officials were willing to continue to work for education in minority languages, along with some Christian
schools and Buddhist monasteries. Some public schools in more remote areas continued to use the
mother tongue as the language of instruction (Hlaing 2007).
In areas of insurgency, called ‘liberated areas’ by insurgents, but ‘black areas’ by the Myanmar
government, schools continued to teach in the minority languages. Myanmar has been taught as
a second or foreign language, often presented and viewed with enmity (Hlaing 2007). However,
language planning in highly multilingual contexts is complex and changes at a societal, as well as
a governmental level, require the reinterpretation of language and identity in constantly evolving
contexts. Hlaing (2007) notes that the National Council for the Union of Myanmar (NCUB), which
consists of Burman, Kachin, Karen, Rakhine, Shan and other ethnic groups, currently use Myanmar as
their language of communication. While there is a desire among these communities for English to be
an official language as it is viewed as neutral, this option is severely limited by the lack of English skills
and trained English teachers in Myanmar.
Although there has not been a blanket prohibition of the teaching and promotion of minority languages in
Myanmar, many ethnic groups are inhibited by the government’s lack of support for their languages and
the decline of the education system, which has crippled mother tongue education across the country
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Myanmar Country Report
(Hlaing 2007). A key objective of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities is a greater share of the revenue, as
well as the government allowing mother tongue education and the integration of local languages into
government communications, place names and official documents (Della-Giacoma and Horsey 2013).
As discussed below in 3.3, the legal framework for minority languages has been tolerating but ethno-
linguistic conflict has persisted.
3.2 Multilingual Education (MLE)
Education is not only a fundamental human right, it is also hugely important in alleviating and preventing
poverty, increasing health, political participation and social tolerance. Equitable universal education is thus
a key goal of creating a fair, healthy and socially inclusive world. As the Education for All Global undertaking
emphasizes, “education enables people to escape from the trap of chronic poverty and prevents the
transmission of poverty between generations” (UNESCO 2014, p. 144). Moreover, there is a strong link
between education and healthier populations due to a range of factors including the willingness to seek
professional help in health issues, including vaccinations, and awareness of basic health standards in
relation to the transmission of, and protection from diseases. Perhaps most importantly for Myanmar
and the LESC Initiative, education has been shown to be instrumental in promoting tolerance and social
cohesion (UNESCO 2014).
In multilingual societies, the question of language of instruction becomes all the more pertinent. In
attempting to redress educational inequities, language issues are invariably raised, as language can
function as a means of exclusion. Students whose home language is different from the language of
instruction face a difficult challenge of partaking in schooling in their second language. Indeed, schooling
in an unfamiliar language partially accounts for the “comparative lack of academic success of minoritised
and indigenous children” (Ball 2011, p. 24). With regards to social cohesion, the exclusion of learners’ native
tongues can also lead to feelings that their cultures, histories and customs are not valued in education
environments. This creates a divide between minority and majority languages and the respective cultures
that these languages both reflect and shape.
From a practical side, teaching early learners in unfamiliar languages presents difficulties for teachers
and other students. Significant time can be wasted trying to convey the most rudimentary literacy skills
at the expense of children’s learning capacities. This can disadvantage the entire classroom, as the
communication difficulties inhibit children learning in their second language (L2), and prevents adequate
attention and development for children learning in their first language (L1) (MLE WG 2013).
Large-scale research studies and case studies have shown that mother tongue learning programmes
that support transitional approaches to national language acquisition can lead to significantly better
educational outcomes for minority children (e.g., Chumbow 2013; Taylor and Coetzee 2013; SEAMEO
and The World Bank 2009; UNESCO 2006, 2007, 2008). However, mother tongued-based education is not
without significant challenges, as recognized throughout these reports, including political, pedagogical,
resourcing and financial impediments. Movement towards a consensus around MLE is in and of itself
a complex process in any nation, and is an issue that forms an important focus on the LESC work in
Myanmar.
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
3.3 Legal framework
Since independence in early 1948, every Constitution has recognized rights for national races, including
the indigenous ethnic minority groups. In the 1948 Constitution, these rights included non-discrimination
and the presence of local national ethnic group members in a national political Chamber of Nationalities
with over half of the members representing five ethnic States, as well as others from ethnic groups
in two States designated subsequently. In the 1974 Constitution, more specific provisions for mutual
respect and development and use of ethnic languages, traditions and customs were included and the
2008 Constitution, this was extended to language, literature, fine arts and culture (Bradley 2015). The
2014 National Education Law and the 2015 Ethnic Rights Law use and development of ethnic groups
languages, literature, culture, art, traditions and historical heritage are supported. In the former case the
LESC Initiative played a constructive role in several meetings with the drafting committee of the law.
Myanmar language (Burmese) has always been the official language and the main medium of education,
government and the justice system (1948 Constitution Article 216, 1974 Constitution Article 102 and
152(b), and 2008 Constitution Article 450). English was co-official from 1948, English was demoted in
1974 English and in 1974 and 2008 the use of ethnic minority languages as a supplement to Myanmar in
the justice system and education was permitted, greatly reinforced by the 2014 education law.
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Myanmar Country Report
4
4.1 LESC and the Comprehensive Education Sector Review (CESR)
LESC research and intervention activities have taken place in the context of the Government of Myanmar
initiative, supported by diverse Development Partners, to undertake a CESR as part of a general national
reform agenda whose principal aim is to raise economic and social development. An overarching goal of
this process and related reform agendas currently underway is to foster the development of a modern
developed nation through education” (Myanmar Ministry of Education, vision statement, 2004) and
the wider 30 Year Long Term Basic Education Development Plan, 2001–2031. Critically relevant are the
overarching constitutional provisions for the national language, for multilingualism and for the distribution
and outcomes of education provision, and employment and economic opportunity.
The CESR processes and its reports are identifying a detailed account of all aspects of educational
practice and policy, from which areas of needed reform and improvement can be identified. The
achievement of Myanmar’s education and social goals, including the Myanmar application of the
Millennium Development Goals, will be influenced by the quality, comprehensiveness and credibility of
the CESR and the recommendations it provides for productive policy development.
The CESR Review, Phase 1, Rapid Assessment Reports (The Republic of the Union of Myanmar Ministry
of Education 2013) have provided a comprehensive overview of education legislation, basic education,
non-formal education, early childhood care and development, teacher education, technical and vocational
education, higher education, education funding, stakeholders, and textbook publishing and distribution.
CESR Phase II is building on and adding to the recommendations of Phase I. The CESR arises in a situation
in which central government control of educational curriculum is strongly entrenched in the 1948, 1974
and 2008 constitutions, with the Ministry of Education in complete control on a nationwide level, the only
exceptions being higher education institutions run by other ministries, such as the Ministry of Defence,
Ministry of Religious Affairs and Ministry of the Interior.
The 2014 education law is a major step forward, arising partly from CESR as well as other influences,
devolving some curriculum control to lower administrative levels including the central Divisions, the
seven ethnic States, and the self-administered areas designated for certain other ethnic groups (Article
44). It also not just permits but supports the introduction of ethnic languages into education, starting
at the earliest level and gradually being extended upwards, with majors in ethnic culture, history and
literature, though not languages, planned for universities (Article 42(b)). Nevertheless, the default
medium of education is still Myanmar, though since 2014 English and ethnic minority languages (Article
43(b)) are also permitted, the latter only alongside Myanmar at basic levels. The examination system and
LESC in Myanmar
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
approval for non-government schools and higher education institutions remain under central control, and
the vast bulk of primary, secondary and higher education is carried out in government schools.
Since the British period, education has consisted of one year of pre-primary education followed
by 10 standards from beginning primary to final secondary level, each assessed by centrally set
examinations; progress to the next standard is only possible after passing the examinations. This
often means that children in remote areas and children from ethnic minority backgrounds whose
mother tongue is not Myanmar language need to attempt a particular standard more than once before
they can pass. It is particularly problematic that it is believed there were quotas for passing Tenth
Standard, the normal entry qualification for higher education, determined centrally according to the
capacity of higher education institutions rather than the actual level of student performance in the
Tenth Standard examinations. Thus Myanmar is quite unlike India, China and many other neighbouring
countries, which have positive discrimination to increase the number of ethnic minority students who
can progress to higher education, through entry quotas and/or through bonus marks on examinations
(Bradley 2015).
The 2014 education law proposes to increase the duration of secondary education by two years, which
will require substantially increased resources for schools and potentially create a two-year gap in students
qualified to start higher education. Apart from the brief Japanese interlude in the early 1940s, since 1885
English has been the main foreign language in the education system, with co-official status from 1948
to 1962 and reintroduced as a possible medium of education, alone or in combination with Myanmar,
from 2014 (2014 Education Law, Article 43(a)). Standards of English declined after 1948, and especially
after 1962, but are again improving. Many other foreign languages are taught in higher education, with
varying success, and in private institutions.
4.2 A conceptual outline
As noted above, the Myanmar sociolinguistic profile is very complex, comprising spoken languages
(accompanied by an unknown number of sign languages), within seven main ‘ethnic’ language clusters
– Chin, Kachin, Kayah (Karenni), Kayin (Karen), Mon, Rakhine and Shan – spoken by more than 23
million people and distributed predominantly within correspondingly named State administrations
(Lewis, Simons, and Fennig 2013; Bradley 2015). Another group of about 11 languages can be identified
with speaker populations exceeding 100,000 each. Within this great diversity there are a large number
of nested dialects and many highly variable, multi-literate realities, including many languages lacking
orthographic standardization (Burling 2003). The national language, Myanmar, is represented across the
national territory, but with highly variable rates of knowledge of its standard forms, and of its literacy.
The nature of cross-language bilingualism/multilingualism, and knowledge of foreign languages,
knowledge of and use of ‘proximal’ languages (Chinese and Indian languages), are distributed in a highly
variable urban/rural pattern and shaped by education levels, occupation and mobility. A true sociolinguistic
profile needs to be sensitive to levels and distribution of sign languages, communication systems for the
language disabled, and other communication questions that impact on access to education or training,
and prospects of access to remunerated employment.
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Myanmar Country Report
The LESC Initiative has taken a comprehensive, language planning approach, involving early childhood
education, primary schooling and post-primary education, aiming to offer concrete methods of language
planning to support MLE in ethnic minority languages, in Myanmar (national language) and in strategic
foreign languages (i.e., English as primary grade subjects, and as medium of instruction in grades 10 and
11) guided by the following principles:
• Languageandliteracyeducationmustbeintegrated.Thisimplicatesawiderangeofmattersincluding
medium of instruction; the relation between first, second and additional languages; the linking of
literacy and curriculum content; pedagogy; notions of bilingualism and conceptual development;
identity and interculturalism; transition points and sequencing in multilingual curriculum, etc.);
• Thebeginningpointistoexploreoutcomeprociencyskillsdesiredbythecommunity ofinterests
(speaker groups, policymakers, researchers, etc.) in relation to the likely communicative outcomes
from current provision with proposals for overcoming gaps and deficiencies identified;
Facilitated Dialogue, Mawlamyine, November, 2014
Credit: J. Lo Bianco
• Theworkhasbeensensitivetoquestionsofliteracy,conceptdevelopmentandschoolparticipation;
equity and access; dropout and discontinuation and re-entry possibilities; identity and citizenship; and
economy and labour market questions;
• The approachhas been guided by principles of effectivelanguage outcomes; language rights and
opportunities; social cohesion and national unity in the context of the recognition of diversity and
pluralism; and the opportunity for all, mainstream and minority populations alike, to gain the spoken
proficiency, literate and cultural knowledge and skills to support equal opportunity and full participation
in national life;
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
• ApriorityforexplorationisashiftfromEnglishtobilingual(Myanmar/English)mediumofinstruction
in mathematical and science subjects in upper secondary grades; this too, and related questions
of assessment, training and materials development, should comprise part of the comprehensive
approach.
(See Appendix 1 for a full copy of the original concept note for the LESC Initiative in English and in
Myanmar).
The LESC Initiative in Myanmar has been informed by participatory action research and fieldwork
activities involving over many hundreds of individuals belonging to some 200 organizations, institutions
and governmental departments across Myanmar. (See Appendix 2 for a list of many of the offices and
organizations involved in the LESC Initiative in Myanmar. In some instances, multiple personnel from an
organization participated in various aspects of the initiative.)
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Myanmar Country Report
5.1 Language status planning
Status refers to the legal and general social
standing of a language. The legal standing
of languages was referred to in 3.1, above,
the social standing or status of languages
can be different from the official recognition
they are granted in legal texts. In Myanmar,
language status questions are relevant to
issues of social cohesion in respect of both
the juridical standing of minority languages
and their real presence in the institutions of
society. A considerable part of conflict around
language in Myanmar has come from the
disparity between official and actual positions,
or such issues constitute a contentious
subject from time to time. The question
of the status of languages is addressed in
the LESC through general policy work in
Myanmar, with the example of the role of
Mon and Karen languages and the work so
far conducted during 2015 in Kachin state. The
high demand for English is an important factor
in language policy in general and potentially
destabilizing of nationalism-based language
planning, unless English is brought into a
comprehensive national language planning
exercise, as proposed below. Comprehensive
language policy represents systematic efforts
of collective, dialogue-based expert language
planning which seeks to address in a single and
coordinated process top-down and bottom-up
activities of language decision-making.
Conceptual approach to engagement
with LESC activities
5
Facilitated Dialogue, Mawlamyine, November, 2014
Credit: J. Lo Bianco
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
5.2 Solving language challenges
This activity was taken forward in the LESC programme through specially designed ‘Facilitated
Dialogues’ (see below for further explanation). Four of these were conducted, in Mae Sot (Thailand),
Mawlamyine and Naypyidaw with the aim of addressing a range of language issues and responding to
them in evidence-based mediated seminars, aiming to foster consensus and collaboration on difficult,
controversial issues around language. These were designed with the specific audience of a multilingual
population in mind and, according to all evaluations and participant comments, proved very successful.
The Facilitated Dialogues also had a deeper and more subtle objective of fostering a culture of dialogue
and collective reflection on policy writing, in place of the traditional pattern, in most countries, in which
community members are typically not included in policy activity as this is reserved for public officials
alone. When contentious issues are involved, and specifically here when language questions that
have been a source of often acrimonious dispute, and even violent conflict over long periods of time,
the Facilitated Dialogue process has proved to be very beneficial to community relations, beyond the
specific outcomes achieved.
5.3 Training in language planning
Specific training in methods of writing language policies was communicated to officials and community
organizations throughout the project and successfully enacted in all Facilitated Dialogues, as detailed
in the following section. In an Asia-wide regional effort organized by UNICEF and the University of
Melbourne, evidence and experience-based methodological guidelines for problem-solving local
dialogues and a regional strategy for their broader implementation, including a fundraising proposal,
will be developed as part of the LESC Initiative. UNESCO has also supported such training initiatives
in conjunction with the University of Melbourne. An additional aim has been to experiment with
new skills and methods for solving language challenges in education and more broadly in society
so participants gain the ability to themselves independently direct language planning processes in
an informed way. These have been expressly built into the Facilitated Dialogues through the use of
‘confederate’ facilitators, in which Prof. Lo Bianco has worked with selected participants before and
after Dialogue sessions to impart to them the aims, structure, assumptions, methods and operating
principles of his methodology.
5.4 Public education on contentious issues
Methods of dealing with controversial topics were included in all Dialogues, talks and meetings. These
include practical focus on delivery methods or how to solve the challenge of multiple languages in a
single school or in a district or state. The role of English in education can often be controversial. There is
widespread demand for English, occasionally there is also nationalist or culturally protective rejection of
the incursions English is seen to be having in education and other social domains. Acquisition of English
and demand for English is also influenced by rural/urban divides and by social class positions and its early
introduction can occasionally be favoured over support for learning in minority mother tongues of children.
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Myanmar Country Report
The timing and sequence of new languages in education, scripts and orthographies, the general question
of multilingualism, the best age and method to introduce new literacy in a new language are also questions
on which there is dispute. Other contentious questions involve how to designate different languages, for
example, what is an ‘official’, ‘national’ or ‘regional’ language, what are ‘language rights’, what is the best
education for disadvantaged children, for isolated, itinerant, undocumented, or marginalized children. All
of these questions were encountered within the LESC Initiative and have formed the basis of efforts to
promote better public education about the questions, introducing and applying existing research findings
from the academic literature, and also promoting local research, experimentation and innovation.
5.5 Mitigating conflict
This has been a major focus of the work. Reducing conflict is advanced through replacing emotional
talk with evidence-based policy processes. It frequently transpires in Dialogues that in the absence of
information, data and research some questions which appear controversial, intractably difficult to resolve
or incomprehensible, can be allayed, mitigated or redressed through information gathering activity. Conflict
can be around symbolic questions as well as pragmatic/practical questions. In the latter category we find
a clear connection between language and slow acting social disparities such as literacy and academic
achievement dictated by differential language abilities among learners and social groups. Access to
national languages, prestige forms of academic communication and articulate expressive ability are all
questions of language which are typically underestimated in public policy, in conflict resolution practices
and in activities aiming to foster national unity.
5.6 Writing guidelines and developing theory and understanding
A vital aim of LESC has been to develop new and better understanding of the links between language in
use, language education, language in society and language policy and the links of these manifestations
of language with questions of social tension, conflict, mobility, resilience and cohesion. A key outcome
of the project will be to systematically map language and conflict according to a matrix along the above
lines. This is taking the form of practical guides as well as academic writing. A deeper understanding of
the complex interaction between language and conflict in multi-ethnic societies is urgently required under
contemporary conditions of rapid and deep globalization of economies, vast mobility of populations and
the diffusion of information and networking technologies.
To facilitate meeting this need, the UNICEF EAPRO and The University of Melbourne are developing
methodological guidelines for problem-solving local dialogues to be released in mid-2016. The guide will
be a technical compendium to support UNICEF staff, government and Ministry of Education officials,
language policymakers, communities and other relevant actors involved in language policy development
to engage in more inclusive, participatory and effective language policy planning processes and to use
relevant participatory methodology such as a Facilitated Dialogues and to understand better methods
and practices of negotiated democracy, shared policymaking procedures and similar evidence-based
decision-making.
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
5.7 Official document analysis
It is critical that a credible research and evidence basis for informing the LESC Initiative and any public
policy outcomes be established. This has taken the form of an extensive literature review of documents
including legal texts, educational jurisdiction documents, academic sources, supra-national sources (e.g.,
documents produced by UNICEF, ASEAN, NGOs), documents from CSOs, and public media, among
other materials. These will be included in the final publications arising from the LESC Initiative.
Facilitated Dialogue, Mawlamyine, May 2014
Credit: J. Lo Bianco
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Myanmar Country Report
Alongside consultations with a wide range of individuals and organizations, a key component of the
LESC Initiative in Myanmar has been the use of Facilitated Dialogues. Also referred to as ‘Deliberation
Conferences, Facilitated Dialogues have been developed by Prof. Lo Bianco over many years of practical
work in language problem solving. The method builds on assumptions and theory of deliberative
democracy but also on the body of literature in the academic field of language planning. Facilitated
Dialogues and consultative deliberation have become important features of research into problem
solving and democratic practice in administration and government in different parts of the world. These
approaches to practical problem solving using facilitate discussion are part of a surge in reflection on the
limits of conventional policymaking as it has been practiced for many years.
The essential aim of Dialogues is to canvas policy alternatives for issues being debated and which are
the cause of conflict, tension or policy paralysis. The use of Facilitated Dialogues in the LESC Initiatives
to date have shown that such a technique can foster the convergence of ideas, as well as agreement
on desirable courses of action that are needed for social cohesion. Under the initial LESC contract, the
following Facilitated Dialogues and activities were conducted in Myanmar.
6.1 Language Policy Forum,
Eastern Burma Community Schools
Mae Sot, Thailand, 12–14 February 2014
The aims of the Mae Sot Facilitated Dialogue were focused around developing a consensus position
on the content and aims of language policy for a large number of ethnic/indigenous settings, including
several with autonomous education systems, either as a pan-ethnic position or as a series of localized
documents. This included deepening understandings of the forms and possibilities of language planning
for fostering peace and justice in order to enhance the educational lives of children across the eastern
Burma/Myanmar zone; supporting the rights of ethnic peoples, the learning of ethnic languages,
the Union language and English, and identifying and addressing impediments to effective language
planning. It moved to encouraging consensus on action, research and teaching required for socially just,
educationally effective language planning, and to developing participants’ working knowledge of mother
tongue-based MLE with an eye to developing the preferred position of a pan-ethnic policy document on
ethnic education’ (see Appendix 3 for the Dialogue agenda and a full list of the aims).
The Mae Sot Facilitated Dialogue was attended by 68 representatives from 22 organizations and 12
different ethnic groups and was conducted in 6 languages. Participants explored a range of fundamental
challenges, including what communities envisioned for the educational and economic future for their
Facilitated Dialogues
6
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
children, their languages and their culture, and their participation to and attitudes towards Myanmar
society. Through detailed informational and participatory processes, the participants worked collaboratively
to develop a research and action plan, focusing on both individual community needs and the potential of
collective, pan-ethnic language planning and action. Through the processes of the Facilitated Dialogues,
in developing a deeper understanding of language planning and policy processes, and MLE, participants
gained a sense of ownership and agency over their linguistic and cultural heritage and rights. This sense
of empowerment and commitment transferred into immediate and longer-term actions, as a pan-ethnic
advocacy group, in service of demanding progression towards substantial improvements in educational
access and outcomes for children across their communities.
6.1.1 Achievements
Many significant achievements emerged from the Mae Sot Facilitated Dialogue (Michaels 2014). A
Declaration of Ethnic Language and Education was drafted during the gathering and a press release
issued shortly after the meeting, declared the launch of MINE. The press release introduces MINE as
Facilitated Dialogue, Mae Sot, February 2014
Credit: J. Lo Bianco
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Myanmar Country Report
an advocacy and action group for the indigenous communities, provides information as to the mission
of MINE and outlines its petitions on behalf of their communities. The main text of the press release
follows.
“The Myanmar/Burma Indigenous Network for Education (MINE) was launched on Friday 21st February,
International Mother Language day. An ethnic education seminar hosted by the Karen Teacher Working
Group (KTWG) in Mae Sot from 12–14 February led to the creation of MINE. The seminar was facilitated
by Dr Joseph Lo Bianco, Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Melbourne and
a consultant and expert in Language and Peacebuilding. Ethnic education leaders from 22 organisations
attended, with 12 different ethnic groups represented. ‘After attending this seminar, I am very encouraged
by the level of enthusiasm of the group and the cooperation and participation in exploring different ways
to preserve and promote our mother tongue languages’ said a Pa-oh representative from the Naung
Taung Parahita Monestary (Hopone). A Declaration of Ethnic Language and Education was drafted
during the meeting […] MINE is promoting indigenous language rights in schools and beyond. Although
the promotion of indigenous language rights is at the heart of MINE, the network also recognises the
importance of education in Myanmar and English languages and is seeking a multilingual language policy
for the Union. ‘MINE is an exciting development for us. We have struggled for our language and culture
rights for so long and without success. Now with MINE we have the support of our other indigenous
brothers and sister’ said MINE spokesperson, Saw Kapi. ‘The recognition of our language and cultural
rights is important to us, and is also essential if there is going to be peace and stability in Burma,’ he
added.(see also Michaels 2014).
Individual ethnic groups have been struggling for their language and cultural rights for many years in
Burma. Each has a different experience of education, unique to their area, but there are many common
experiences amongst the groups. “With MINE we can share our experiences and work together across
different indigenous groups. We will work together to advocate for culturally appropriate education for our
children. Most importantly, schooling for our children in their own languages,” said Naw Ler Htu, Karen
Teacher Working Group Chairperson.
This important document goes on to argue that:
“‘International research clearly shows that Mother Tongue Based, Multilingual Education (MTB-
MLE) improves children’s learning in school. It promotes better learning across all school subjects,
keeps children in school and improves the quality of second and third language acquisition,’ said
Saw Kapi. ‘Children learn best in all subjects and are more engaged when taught in their mother
tongue. If children have a strong base in their own language, they can master other languages, such
as Burmese and English, when these are introduced, initially as subjects and later as languages of
instruction,’ he added. Although there are some small changes happening in certain parts of the
country, the current official government policy does not allow learning in the mother tongue or
use of mother tongue in the delivery of government services. MINE is advocating for the official
government policy to allow indigenous children to access culturally appropriate education in their
own mother tongue. MINE also advocates for access to government services in mother tongue
language in ethnic areas. ‘Our aim is to ensure that indigenous school children have the right to
mother tongue education and to establish a multilingual education system in our country, where
diverse ethnic nationalities co-exist,’ Saw Kapi said.
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
Released to coincide with International Mother Language Day the key aim of MINE is for:
• Comprehensive language planning to support preservation of indigenous languages and improve
learning of Burmese and English by indigenous people.
• AMLEsystem,promotingthelanguageoftheUnionandEnglishalongwiththeindigenousgroup’s
mother tongue.
• Indigenouschildrentohavetherighttoeducationintheirmothertongue.
• Therightforethnicschoolchildrentobetaughtusinganinclusivecurriculum,whichvaluestheirownculture.
• Therightforindigenouspeople toproducetheirownculturallyappropriate curriculaandtoproduce
texts in their own language for use in schools.
(See Appendix 4, for full versions of the press release in English and in Myanmar).
Building on the sense of agency and knowledge of language planning and policy mechanisms acquired
through the Facilitated Dialogues, MINE then moved to prepare and release an Ethnic Languages and
Education Declaration, on 15 June 2014, in English (Appendix 5) and in Myanmar (Appendix 5). The
document “describes the current situation of schooling for Indigenous children and youth in remote,
ethnic nationality areas of Myanmar/Burma and then sets out a framework of recommended actions to
be taken” (Appendix 5, p. 2). The report situates the challenges faced by communities in relation to the
Myanmar constitution and the review of the national education law and identifies a range of structural
Facilitated Dialogue, Mae Sot, February 2014
Credit: J. Lo Bianco
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Myanmar Country Report
impediments to educational and linguistic outcomes for children in MINE communities. The declaration
calls for the following goals to be included in Myanmar’s national education policy:
• Theright to mother tongueeducation inthe earliestyears ofschooling and continued throughout
education.
• TherighttolearntheUnionlanguageofBurmeseequallywellwiththemaincommunityoftheUnion
for equal rights to citizenship.
• TherighttolearnEnglishastheinternationallanguageandthemainlanguageofASEAN.
• Nationallanguageplanningto promote preservationofethniclanguagesandculturesand peachin
Myanmar (Appendix 5, p. 7).
The MINE declaration then calls for a further range of actions to be considered and entrenched in
the education system, including wider teaching and learning reforms; specific research projects to
support ethnic minority success in education and multilingualism; assistance for individual languages;
the establishment of advisory structures; support for existing independent ethnic education systems;
creation of ethnic language departments at university level, devolution of curriculum planning and
implementation, alongside development of a multicultural national curriculum. These aims are collected
into a preamble and set of statements, follow:
ACTION
The Government of Myanmar and civil society are working towards wide reaching reforms to education
throughout the country. MINE calls for the following actions to be considered and entrenched in
national education policy reforms.
Teaching and learning
• Improvequalityofeducationthroughaccesstomothertonguebased,MLE
• Locallevelplanningtoensureinstructionisavailableinallstudentsmothertongues
• Supportforuse of teacherassistantsandteachingaides to help studentslearnBurmeseand
maintain their mother tongue as they study the national curriculum
• LinkEnglishteachingtomothertongueandMyanmarlanguage
• Support training for teachers in ethnic nationality areas in at least three languages–mother
tongue, Myanmar and English
• Culturallyappropriateeducationinclusiveoflocalepistemologies,historiesandculturaltraditions/
practices
• Develop an inclusive national curriculum promoting Myanmar’s diverse ethnicities, histories,
languages and cultures
• Improveteachercapacity through pre-servicetrainingandcontinual professionaldevelopment
for indigenous areas
• Increasesupport forand employment of local teacherswho can speak and teachindigenous
mother tongue
• Increaselearningofindigenouslanguagesbyteachersandrecruitnativelanguagespeakersinto
teacher training programmes
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
• Developchild-centredlearningpracticesandimproveteachingmethodsingovernmentschools
• Urgent requirement to increase teacher salaries to improve commitment to and quality of
teaching while reducing the practice of bribery by students
Research
• Researchtosupportbestpracticesofmothertongue-basedMLEandlanguageplanning
• Establish a national research committee including ethnic representatives and ensure that
language policy is one of its priority research areas
• Includetheperspectives,storiesandachievementsofethnicnationalitiesinthehistorycurriculum
• Promote research to support the special needs of smaller language groups and vulnerable
language communities
• Research to facilitate language planning on indigenous language scripts and vocabulary
development
• Researchoncommonformsof language within existing indigenous groups andinlocalareas
with diverse languages
• Researchexploringstrategiesofcreatingopportunitiestoapplymotherlanguagewidelyindailylife
Assistance to individual languages
• Fund oral history research and the revitalization and preservation of indigenous languages in
cooperation with older generations
• Assistanceforlanguageplanningon scriptandterminologytopermitmothertongue teaching
across a variety of subject areas
• Supporttomaintainandpromotelocalnames(towns,territories,etc.)tostrengthenlocalhistory
and identity
Advisory structures
• Formaboardoflinguisticexpertstoadviseindigenouseducationgroups
• Advisorystructuresshouldincludeethnicrepresentatives
• Initiateandsupportliteracyandculturecommitteestodevelopmothertonguelanguages
Ethnic education systems
• For the short to medium term at least, maintain existing community and ethnic nationality
schools and do not replace them with government schools
• Encouragecollaborationbetweencommunityandethnicnationalityschoolsandschoolsystems
and the government school system to improve education delivery
• Recognizeandsupportcommunity,religiousandnon-stateactoradministeredschools
• Allocatebudgetforteacherstipendsandteachingandlearningmaterialsforcommunity,religious
and non-state actor administered schools
• Supportforschoolmanagementanddatacollectionforcommunity,religiousandnon-stateactor
administered schools
• Supportforlocalmothertongue-basedcurriculumdevelopment
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Myanmar Country Report
Higher education
• Indigenousstudydepartmentsshouldbeestablishedatuniversitylevel
• CreateandsupportaDepartmentofIndigenousLinguisticsandPhilosophy
• Create Bachelor and Master’s degree programmes in linguistics for speakers of indigenous
languages
• Granttherighttoandencouragepublicationofindigenousliterature
National curriculum and local flexibility
• Amulticulturalnationalcurriculumpromotingharmonyamongstallpeople ofMyanmar/Burma
and respect for different ethnicities, language and cultural traditions
• Centralgovernmenttoprovideonlyguidanceandstandardsettingwithincreasedmanagement
and decision-making authority at the State and local level
• DecentralizationofauthorityovereducationtotheStateandlocallevelssothatcurriculumand
teaching practices are applicable to the local context
• Allowanceforandinclusionoflocalcurriculumwithinthenationalcurriculum(forexample,60%
national and 40% local) (Appendix 5, pp. 8–9).
An ongoing commitment to advance the aims of the MINE collaboration was demonstrated through
the development of a long-term working plan, based on ongoing language planning and policy work and
regular meetings. The plan focuses on advocacy for mother tongue education, MLE, decentralization of
educational decisions, intercultural education, policy decision-making and participation, and all inclusive
education (Appendix 6).
6.2 Language, Education and Social Cohesion Facilitated Dialogue,
Mawlamyine, Mon State, Myanmar
27–28 May 2014 (36 participants)
Language Education and Social Cohesion Facilitated Dialogue,
Mawlamyine, Mon State, Myanmar
6–7 November 2014 (32 participants)
a) Technical issues in writing a language policy Facilitated Dialogue: Mon State. Mawlamyine,
Myanmar, 6 November 2014 (32 participants)
b) Policy issues in writing a language policy Facilitated Dialogue: Mon State Mawlamyine, Myanmar,
7 November (22 participants)
Both of the May and November Mawlamyine Facilitated Dialogues focused on the language planning
and policy activities for Mon State, with the intention of elaborating and extending the mandated use of
Myanmar as exclusive medium of instruction in state schools. This practice has been a significant barrier
for children from non-Myanmar speaking households enrolled in primary grades (UNICEF 2015). This
exclusion has also been a barrier for students entering high school and results in school dropouts and
poor results in national schools, especially for predominantly Mon-speaking areas in the southern and
more rural parts of the State (UNICEF 2015).
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
After initial difficulties due to lingering conflicts and different positions about the ultimate aim of ethnic
education, the participants of the Facilitated Dialogue decided to focus their energies on development of
a comprehensive approach to language policy on a state-specific basis. The idea was to trial preparation
of this by beginning with drafting a preamble, principles, and focus areas to see if agreement could be
achieved on these elemental steps. After success in these tasks it was decided to work towards a state
policy linked to Union-wide policy in the interests of fostering social cohesion and collaborative social
relations in Myanmar.
As the Facilitated Dialogue proceeded participants agreed to explore a wider understanding of the forms
and possibilities of language planning to promote human rights in general as well as improved education
and to identify, define and examine specific issues that require attention, such as the needs of disabled
groups, the challenge of providing for areas of high multilingual density, how to promote improvements
in acquisition of Myanmar language and English for remote pupils. (see Appendix 7 for the Dialogue
agenda and a full list of the aims).
The Facilitated Dialogue was attended by 36 participants from a wide range of interested organizations,
including government officials, researchers and academics, CSOs, as well as representatives from
NGOs. Through a combination of informational sessions and whole group and small group activities
and discussions, the participants explored challenges in MLE, literacy, and languages development in
Facilitated Dialogue, Mawlamyine, May 2014
Credit: J. Lo Bianco
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Myanmar Country Report
Myanmar, and agreed to write a consensus statement and model language policy for the Mon State.
The policy preamble was completed during dialogue, which required regular checking of assumptions
and meanings of key terms, the applicability or non-applicability of concepts in MLE in schools and
classrooms that have arisen from developed country contexts to the Myanmar setting. A key point of
discussion was how education provision could be sustained by multilingualism in the community, and
therefore the role of community-based language providers and agencies. Within a specifically educational
context a key point of discussion was whether to ‘quarantine’ mother tongues from dominant languages
in pedagogy, and research understandings of how children think and develop in more than one language.
6.2.1 Achievements
The outstanding achievement resulting from the Facilitated Dialogue was the eventual full agreement,
endorsed through a procedure of ‘voice and vote’, devised by Prof. Lo Bianco as a constant check of
understanding and agreement with the line of discussion by all participants, and eventual and strategic
votes on key points, but not the most critical ones, which were decided through persuasion (voice). Using
this method full consensus and commitment towards the preparation by local agents of a comprehensive
multilingual language policy for Mon State was decided. This was particularly significant due to the high
level of doubt and uncertainty, and considerable initial hostility from some parties, to the aims of the
Facilitated Dialogue and to the role of the Central government in the entire activity. Such misgivings
were apparent in initial phases and continued on and off, but voice and vote procedures during the first
Facilitated Dialogue and a subsequent series of meetings, built a shared view and consensus. As this
formed among many participants including state parliamentarians, ethnic leaders and external public
officials including central government representatives the policy dialogue process succeeded in creating
a sense of trust and a belief that the topic of language afforded the chance to construct positive gains for
Mon State and to contribute to a general climate of peacebuilding. Via this process many stakeholders,
including State government representatives from different political parties and factions, moved from
observer roles to ownership and commitment, leading the emergence of a singular group constructed
of government officials and civil society partners, supported by the facilitator to taking responsibility for
direct drafting of a preamble and a declaration of policy aims, jointly with former antagonists.
The policy preamble and its conceptualization were not just limited to the Mon language, but included
action on behalf of all the languages within the State, such as Pa’o, Karen and Mon, as well as Myanmar,
the official national language. The beginnings of the wider development are shown through the measures
detailed in the following preamble and press release prepared through the Facilitated Dialogue. Key
components of the bilingual draft preamble for the policy (see Appendix 8, including press release) are as
follows, retaining some of the original expression of the early drafts.
Preamble:
The Republic of Union of Myanmar is the country where all indigenous people are staying together
unity. Therefore, it is very important all ethnic groups to get equal opportunity and to protect and
maintain their literacy and cultural heritages. The development of each state and region in the
country is same as the improvement of all indigenous people. All ethnic groups should endeavour
together to develop their states and regions. Therefore, it is essential to support the development
of all indigenous mother tongues by all indigenous people. Mon, Kayin, Pao, Myanmar and other
indigenous people are staying together in Mon state. We believe that if mother tongue is used
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
as Medium of Instruction in classroom or education sector, it will support children to get better
learning achievement and to learn the things which are really relevant to their daily lives. Therefore,
while developing national or state/regional policies, authority should consider developing mother
tongue based policies which also encourage learning national and international languages. By
doing so, it will reinforce unity which will encourage all indigenous people to get peace, well-
being and happiness. Accordingly, we prepare and purpose mother tongue based education
policy which will promote the improvement of education quality, unity and upgrading cultural and
traditional heritage for indigenous people in Mon state.
Objectives
• Allchildrento get opportunitytouseMother-tongueBasedMultilingual Educationinbasic
education
• Tocreateaneducationsystembasedonmothertonguewhichwillencouragetobeableto
learn mother tongue, national and international languages competently
• To establish and strengthen organizations which can support the improvement of ethnic
literacy and language and enhance to get better collaboration and coordination among
stakeholders
• StateandRegionalEducationDepartmentshouldtrainandproducequalify,skillfulteachers
who can speak one of local languages and having familiarly with local content for their
regions.
Activities
• GovernmenttoprovidefundingandothersupportstoimplementtheMotherTongueBased
Multi Lingual Education planning and policy
• To implement Mother-tongue Based Multilingual Education, we will coordinate and
collaborate with United Nations organization and other international organizations to get
advice and technical assistance
• Accordingtoneedsofthepeople,wewilldevelopculturallyandlocallyappropriatecurriculum
for each ethnic group
• We will coordinate and collaborate to recognize school curriculum developed by ethnic
groups and will provide necessary support
• Tobeabletoestablishstatelevelorganizationwhichwillsupportindevelopingethnicliteracy
and language, we will appoint and assign individual and organizations which are relevant to
the objectives of the language policy and planning. In accordance with the needs of the
people, we will open ethnic language centers and will provide trainings to native teachers
• To get better coordination, we will bring together all local donors, well-wishers and
organization to provide necessary supports for each region to improve their language and
literacy.
The second Facilitated Dialogue, held in November 2014, was conducted over two days. It incorporated
a decision makers level meeting (32 participants), followed by a technical meeting (22 participants)
(See Appendix 9 for the meeting agenda). Both of these meetings were informed by activities that
had by this stage been undertaken at the national level in the Union-wide Naypyidaw Facilitated
Dialogue that focused on the development of a national approach to a “peace promoting language
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Myanmar Country Report
policy for Myanmar”. The decision makers level meeting at Mawlamyine addressed administrative and
operational questions related to language policy, critical questions including teacher availability, text
book design and availability, programme design, duration and course content, language attitudes,
levels of continuation of Mon and Myanmar languages, English and other languages, a timetable for
the subsequent year’s work (that is 2015), links between Mon State policy and Union-wide language
policy, special education needs in relation to sign language and minority languages, and special
initiative to support the policy including a central language school and bilingual methodologies. The
policymakers meeting focused on the aims, principles and political/legal framework within which to
base the Mon State policy with the facilitator charged with fusing the outcomes of the two processes.
The subsequent technical meeting addressed the tasks and responsibilities for achieving the writing
of language policy, the delegation of responsibilities, the research requirements to support policy
development and the special initiatives.
The constructive and positive relationship that formed between all stakeholders though these processes
and associated meetings has not only created a sense of ownership and agency around language and
education, but resulted in the transfer of collaboration more broadly. Due to the positive relationship among
stakeholders, it has been easier to work on other project activities such as school grant disbursements
for non-state schools through the state education office and coordination among stakeholders across the
education sector.
Facilitated Dialogue, Mawlamyine, May 2014
Credit: J. Lo Bianco
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
6.2.2 Evaluations
The Myanmar Country Office report to the regional workshop, the Knowledge Sharing Workshop of
UNICEF EAPRO 15–17 September 2014 stated that the Facilitated Dialogues “held in Mon State has laid
a very strong basis for the development of detailed language policy in that state as a model for extension
to other parts of Myanmar”.
The feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive. The vast majority reported that the
process met or exceeded their expectations, commenting especially on the optimism it generated,
with the quality of input and the presenters the notable standouts of the Dialogue. Teacher or education
based participants identified the emphasis on practical delivery of mother tongue learning and MLE,
as well as how to teach languages through action oriented learning, as the most beneficial aspects
of the discussions. Policy and government based participants commented most strongly on the
dynamic success of collaboration-based policy writing, and the information provided about possible
models of provision, policy settings, evaluation methods and other ‘high order’ outcomes. Combining
all responses participants identified: explanations of how to teach ethnic languages in schools by
applying mother tongue based multilingual education” as the most positive single item of learning for
them. This reflects participants’ interest in the theoretical foundations of mother tongue-based MLE,
and how the principles of this approach could best serve children in Mon State. Particular emphasis on
the practical ways of teaching in both native and national languages was also recognized as of crucial
importance by the participants. This was demonstrated by the participants’ enjoyment of the focus on
Facilitated Dialogue, Naypyidaw, July 2014
Credit: J. Lo Bianco
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Myanmar Country Report
explanations of action oriented language teaching methods”. Other highlights included the Dialogue’s
focus on the ways in which policy can be conceived through consultative discussion to alleviate tension
in multilingual environments, which included specific exercises into “problem solving, discussion about
issues and [how to] lay down education policy”.
Participants were asked to identify areas of information or problem areas in which they needed more
information and support. A clear theme emerged in answers to this question. Most pointed out that the
critical need in further Dialogues should be for more detail on practical ways in which mother tongue
learning can be implemented and promoted while maintaining adequate proficiency in the national
language to promote better lifelong education. Participants here were concerned both with practical
delivery and design of such programmes but also with material to persuade hostile or unconvinced officials
or community members. Participants also desired further information on “how to apply mother tongue
based multilingual education in the classroom where many ethnic children are schooling in a particular
place.” For the participants, future Dialogues could also incorporate more international case studies
where MLE is a practical success; how mother tongue learning applies in classrooms where children
have many different native tongues; as well as brining more government officials into discussions about
how to implement mother tongue learning methodologies in early childhood education comprehensively
across the Union.
All responses from participants in the Mon State Facilitated Dialogues, and the many associated meetings,
including the technical and policy based writing teams, recognized the critical importance of step-wise
progression in language and education related challenges. This means that participants could identify
that replacing past policies that had produced conflict, tension and acrimony would require sustained and
repeated efforts to tackle individual problems and build solutions.
The overwhelming response was of an optimistic perspective. The dialogue process when led by expert
facilitation and academic research based knowledge was seen as very positive, but that more events of
this kind should be organized and undertaken in Mon State, other ethnic states, as well as Union-wide
(See Appendix 10 for the feedback evaluations).
The writing of the Mon State language policy is now continuing under the extension of the LESC Initiative
in Myanmar (See Section 8).
6.3 Language, Education and Social Cohesion Facilitated Dialogue.
Naypyidaw, Myanmar
29–30 July 2014 (26 participants)
A meeting on language policy as part of social cohesion was convened in the capital Naypyidaw. This
Facilitated Dialogue was attended by 26 representatives from a wide range of organizations and was
designed in conjunction with the Government of Myanmar to ensure that it achieved its key goal of
supporting local work, such as the Mon State processes discussed above, with a senior public official
based approach. Direct meetings with the Ministry, directors general of education, and the Deputy
Minister of Education, secured widespread support for the Dialogue. Participants included senior
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
government officials from Planning and Training, Education, and Social Welfare departments; culture and
language committees from five ethnic states, and parliamentary representatives from different political
parties; researchers and academics; CSOs, including language and literacy groups, ethnic organizations
and educational committees; as well as representatives from a range of national and international NGOs.
The preceding meetings had achieved agreement on the objectives of the Naypyidaw Facilitated Dialogue:
to discuss perspectives, and seek inputs and recommendations to advance the social cohesion, education
improvements, and to promote ethnic reconciliation (See Appendix 11 for the Dialogue agenda).
6.3.1 Achievements
The NPT Facilitated Dialogue achieved a major breakthrough in persuasion of public officials that a
comprehensive multilingual language policy could be prepared in a collaborative way, with significant
national benefits in the education of minority children, improved social cohesion and greater impact on
peacebuilding through relationships between all sectors of society.
Significant work was undertaken to achieve the drafting of a set of policy principles and a preamble for
a Union-wide language policy. The policy principles, known as the Naypyitaw Principles, which emerged
from the initial Facilitated Dialogue are as follows and were prepared by the facilitator in response to,
and distilling, discussion during the Dialogue and from previous meetings. Using ‘voice’ approaches to
discussion these were debated, refined, extended and modified, and then voted on in succession. All
were adopted unanimously and later endorsed by the Ministry of Education directly as the basis for
conducting nation-wide Facilitated Dialogues to prepare language policy for the Union to promote peace
and social cohesion. The NPT principles for development of Myanmar language policy are:
Facilitated Dialogue, Naypyidaw, July 2014
Credit: J. Lo Bianco
36
Myanmar Country Report
Unity: by supporting all to learn Myanmar language and literacy, for common and equal citizenship
Diversity: by supporting ethnic and indigenous communities to maintain, enjoy and transmit
their languages to their children
Cohesion: by promoting inclusion and participation for ethnic and indigenous minorities
Education: by improving equitable access and participation, literacy, vocational and life skills,
and academic standards
Employment: by raising standards in Myanmar, English and mother tongues, where relevant, to
help young people enter the competitive labour market including trades and professions
Service delivery: by supporting communication planning to make sure that public administration
are communicating effectively with all citizens especially interpreting and translation in health,
legal contexts and social services
International relations: in order to support trade, diplomacy and travel through widespread
knowledge of English, and labour migration in the context of ASEAN mobility, and learning of
strategic foreign languages
Inclusive communication: by integrating support for visually and hearing impaired persons, and
other communication disabled citizens
Ethnic rights: by recognizing the unique cultures and traditions of Myanmar’s indigenous people
A broad policy preamble was also prepared, and both are being elaborated as part of the new LESC
Initiative in Myanmar (see below) for the development of a Peace Building and Social Cohesion Promoting
National Language Policy in Myanmar.
6.3.2 Evaluations
The evaluation sheets filled in by participants are characterized by optimism and enthusiasm for the entire
process. Participants were extremely positive with regards to the quality, knowledge and effectiveness
Facilitated Dialogue, Naypyidaw, July 2014
Credit: J. Lo Bianco
37
Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
of the presenters and facilitator. Overall, it was noted by participants that the atmosphere was friendly
and conducive to effective and positive learning and that difficult initial positions were negotiated expertly
and resolved effectively.
While participants had a broad spread of activities they commended, some sessions and topics had the
deepest effect and impression. These tended to be policy oriented topics on apparently problematical
or intractably difficult question related to multilingualism. In particular participants evaluated highest
those sessions that focused on practical problem solving methods. The key ones were: how to reconcile
the national official language with the claim for mother tongue-based rights, how to measurelearning
achievements and standards while acknowledging multilingualism. Also much commented on positively
was the answers provided in the Dialogue on how to do collective policy writing in which ‘many hands
are invited to participate.
Participant expressed, in both presentations and group activities, that the above were the high points of
the dialogue. Participants also found examples provided from other countries’ responses to multilingual
challenges to be helpful in providing important alternatives and optionsfor language and educational
responses in Myanmar. With some specific exceptions, the overall feedback from the participants was
that the role of ethnic languages in education needed more attention. It was also noted that in order to
deal with such complicated issues, the length of the dialogue was insufficient. It was noted that three to
four days for such a workshop with its important policy writing aims would be more appropriate than two
days. It was also expressed by some participants that they would benefit from a follow up workshop that
looked more specifically at exclusiveparticipation of policymakers and government officials, particularly
with regards to ethnic children and the use of mother tongue learning in schools (See Appendix 12).
38
Myanmar Country Report
7
Language is a factor in conflict in several key ways. Some of these are overt and evident, while others
camouflaged. This is because language is both an expression of identity, as well as a tool to access
cultural, symbolic, political and material resources. Academic language is the source of children’s
advances in literacy and education (Tochon 2014), while specialized language enables adults to enter
trade, occupational or professional fields. Language is also the means through which narratives of nation
building are produced, so it plays a critical role in providing people with access to citizenship and political
engagement and participation. Another key role for language is in the dissemination and perpetuation
of culture and religion. As language and language-related decisions can be used to include or exclude
people, they are key determinants in marginalization, but, also in social cohesion and breaking down
societal barriers. Existing language-related tensions can then be exacerbated further by failing to discuss
problems openly and respectfully, leading to further feelings of marginalization and cultural minimization.
Language and ethnicity differences are often present in conflicts and their failed resolution has exacerbated
these conflicts by eroding trust in national institutions and between groups in society. The evidence for
this is clear in the overt grievances of various armed groups in the three countries of the LESC Initiative
(Lo Bianco 2015). Asia-wide documentation of ethnic conflicts shows that they rarely have a single causal
explanation and that language itself is a phenomenon with multiple functions, simultaneously a symbol
of ethnic and national identity and a practical tool for delivery of education and a tool for economic,
social and political development. In an Asia-wide study of relations between language, identity and social
conflict, Brown and Ganguly (2003) shows that different kinds of language planning can be critically
important in language conflict. In this study, teams of researchers collected data across 15 Asia-Pacific
countries to understand ethnic violence and concluded that in all but two of the 15 cases, governments
dealt with ethnic language issues either ‘poorly’ or ‘disastrously’.
The LESC Initiative demonstrates that language plays a crucial role in conflict resolution. Although language
status and language education can be a cause of conflict, or associated with and often compounding
other conflicts, addressing difficult questions of language also proves to be an opportunity to resolve
tensions and difficulties in related areas such as religion, ethnicity and socio-economic disparities as well
as specifically language-focused problems.
However, the track record of language policymaking in Myanmar, as elsewhere, suggests that significant
modification of the process of language planning is required to convert it into an instrument of conflict
mitigation. Despite Myanmar’s focus on its national language and its development through the Myanmar
Processes for alleviating language
challenges
39
Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
Language Commission, significant challenges remain for minority languages and new methods and
practices of language planning are urgently required to foster national unity – methods which go far
beyond ‘consultation’ as a modality of seeking endorsement or compliance of populations. There has
been serious disparity between the perceptions of minority groups and officials as to the aims and
experience of language education.
The LESC Initiative in Myanmar, and the significant progress that has been made across state-level,
as well as Union-wide contexts, confirms that language problems and hostilities based on language
questions can be relieved through focused and well-prepared interventions, particularly when framed in
the general interest of enhancing social cohesion, resilience and fostering national unity.
The Facilitated Dialogues and other activities undertaken in Myanmar have shown an extremely high
level of success in addressing these by a method of examining realistically achievable objectives against
policy declarations and education documents and by exploring areas through which language issues and
tensions can be accommodated and facilitated. It is an odd feature of language policy formulation that
some specific questions of dispute are about symbolic representations of language, and others are about
the presence of language as an almost silent or invisible aspect of social inequalities. We might contrast
these as the ‘standing’ or representative nature of languages (what they are called and perceived to be,
national, official, ethnic, regional, global, indigenous, identity etc., and other appellations) on the one
hand, and the abilities produced by schooling and higher education that make possible high levels of
educational attainment, employment and professional material success. Language questions span this
vast range and therefore only a subtle and comprehensive approach to the content of language policy as
well as its effects can aspire to realistically address language-related challenges.
40
Myanmar Country Report
The LESC Initiative has shown that language policy processes can play a vital role in generating
consensus, trust, and collaborative approaches to decision-making and enactment, which can lead to
greater educational outcomes for children and improve social cohesion. The Initiative has shown that
the content and process of language problem alleviation can be achieved through focused and well-
prepared interventions and research-based guidance in collaborative processes of decision-making
(Figure 1), as enacted through the Facilitated Dialogues, policy forums, workshops, bilateral meetings
and consultations.
The expert, organized structure of the Facilitated Dialogues allowed for constructive and positive
relationships to be formed between many stakeholders, creating a sense of ownership and agency
around language and education. They helped establish a dialogue space, which was previously absent,
where MLE issues can be discussed. Through the Dialogues, the participants developed an understanding
Outcomes
8
Figure 1: Processes and outcomes of Facilitated Dialogues
Facilitated Dialogues
Policy Forums
Workshops
Bilateral meetings
Consultations
1. Understanding of
differing stakeholder
values
2. Constructive
engagement
3. Engagement with
academic research and
evidence in language
and literacy
4. Increased sense of
ability to effect change
5. Increased trust
6. Convergence of ideas
7. Consensus
8. Collaborative action
9. Fostering a culture of
dialogue
10. Scrutiny of existing
models of good
practice
• Language
planning
and policy
development
• Collaborative
decision-
making
• Inclusive
policies
• Educational
progression
• Language
tension
• Poor
educational
outcomes
Information sessions
on langauge
planning and policy
and multilingual
education
Knowledge sharing
41
Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
of the mechanisms of language planning processes, including status, corpus and acquisition planning in
the context of multilingual societies, and were able to move towards more collaborative processes.
These processes stimulated the demand side for policy development on the part of government, at both
the technical and decision-making level; built trust among government, expert and civil groups; moved
debate beyond notions of impossible and unmanageable; as well as raising expectations that common
ground can be achieved.
The process, where some entrenched and negative views among government officials and ethnic groups
have been overcome, developed over a number of discussions and interactions. Initially an understanding
began to emerge of the possibility of constructing a shared vision and understanding among themselves,
and then moved towards collaborative discussions around the issues previously a point of disagreement.
Public officials admitted on several occasions that they had never before had the opportunity to hear a
reasoned case for mother tongue education; in many cases, such individuals reported to being ‘won over’
to the needs and challenges for minority groups. The experience of jointly authoring policy preambles and
declarations was universally considered a powerful practice of learning alternative ways of thinking, of
coming to appreciate the validity of different views and even the forging collaborations and friendships.
A particular outcome has been the persuasion of public officials that comprehensive multilingual language
policy can be prepared collaboratively at the national and state levels, with significant national benefits
in the education of minority children, improved social cohesion and greater impact on peacebuilding
through relationships between all sectors of society.
42
Myanmar Country Report
The most important recommendation emerging form the LESC Initiative is for the preparation of
a peacebuilding and social cohesion promoting national language policy for Myanmar, allied to an
international conference on language policy in multilingual and multicultural settings. Significant work
has been undertaken through the initial LESC Initiative in establishing and developing relationships,
trust and consensus; in identifying and negotiating aims and expectations; and in moving towards a
common and harmonious representation of the language and education needs in Myanmar. The use of
Facilitated Dialogues, policy environment scans, observations and interviews, field trips and community
consultation have been key components of the original Initiative and would again form the cornerstone of
a participatory process of language policy development by and for the people of Myanmar.
Crucial theoretical components to be supported in the language planning and policy activities are status
planning, corpus planning and acquisition planning.
Status Planning involves a detailed examination of the legal constitutional position of languages within the
Union of the Republic of Myanmar and discussions with relevant bodies in Government and at university
level. It also needs to include a commentary on the scope and adequacy of current arrangements, as
well as addressing questions of decentralization of administration and state-based activity on behalf of
languages. Community and district patterns should also be reflected in the examination, as well as civil
society and community needs, effectively combining bottom-up and top-down language planning;
Corpus Planning addresses the linguistic developmental needs of languages in Myanmar, from high
order standardization to script, dissemination, and terminology in relation to very small and endangered
languages, seeking, through consultation, to provide a detailed map of culture and language cultivation
activities across the country, identifying areas which require improvement;
Acquisition Planning addresses issues of multilingual language acquisition including the national language
– Myanmar, mother tongues other than Myanmar, the bilingualism involved for many students, literacy
and academic requirements, the role of English and other international languages, and a particular focus
on the special needs areas of deafness and visual impairment and their impact on communication.
Building on the initial inputs of the LESC Initiative the main outcomes of this new initiative should include:
• ThedevelopmentofUnionlevellanguagepolicy
• The development of several state level language policies coordinated with the Union level policy
through the NPT principles (see 6.3.1)
Recommendations
9
43
Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
• Thedevelopmentofmodelpoliciesforotherstatesanddistrictsofthecountrybasedontheabove
• Integrated implementation plans at state and Union levels, responding to a series of identied
language and communication challenges
• Asuiteofintegratedpolicydocuments,envisagedtoconsistoftwovolumes
• Documentedoutcomesfromtheconference,and
• Otherpublications and informationprovision,including researchreports,language maps, and other
material as required.
Most importantly, language policies and language education should take account of the need for all
students to:
i) gain full access to the knowledge and skills imparted through the curriculum;
ii) gain full literacy and speaking competence in the mother tongue, the national language and English;
iii) gain the awareness to conduct conversations in an inclusive and harmonious way that recognizes the
rights and opportunities of all people.
44
Myanmar Country Report
The Mon State case study was designed to explore the prospects of modelling a positive approach to
language education policy development in a location that is relatively compact and stable. Mon State
was also chosen because of its willingness to participate in and host the activity of localized policy
development. The LESC activities were designed to explore alternatives to the mandated use of Myanmar
as the exclusive medium of instruction in Mon State schools. Recent legislative changes in Mon State
have allowed teaching of the Mon language to recommence in state schools, along with other ethnic
languages, including Pa-O and Karen languages.
The Mon State LESC case study was undertaken in order to establish the feasibility of locally driven,
collaborative language policy development at the state level in Myanmar, with the intention of producing an
accessible model of language policy development for ethnic groups and states to adopt across Myanmar.
Mon State provided an ideal location for this activity as community groups and non-state authorities
had already undertaken considerable work in establishing “extensive ethno-nationalist-oriented school
systems running parallel to those of the official state system” (Lall and South 2014, pp. 298–299). The Mon
National Education Committee has also established informal partnerships with local government schools
in areas with Mon-speaking populations. These ‘mixed’ schools cater to Mon speakers by teaching the
national curriculum, but also by offering extra modules on the Mon languages and history.
As a result, many of the parties involved were amenable to exploring the possibilities of progressing
language-related issues in the Mon State education system, but were also interested in broader social
issues in the region and Union-wide. The involvement of interested parties in the Mon State in this
LESC activity has proved extremely effective. From its origins as a small case study within the larger
LESC Initiative, the Mon State language policy activity has achieved significant outcomes, and now
forms a key component of a much broader extension of the LESC Initiative, the development of a Peace
Building and Social Cohesion Promoting National Language Policy in Myanmar, 2015-2016. The Mon State
language policy and preamble now serves as a template for other State-based language policies, working
in conjunction with the incipient National language policy.
The achievements of the Mon State case study are reported above, this section provides a more detailed
picture of the specific setting, challenges and processes undertaken by the LESC Initiative in Mon State.
10.1 Mon language and identity
The Mon language holds a special significance for Myanmar. The Mon language has a long history in the
broader Asia-Pacific region, with its writing system forming the basis of the current national language.
Mon case study
10
45
Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
Old Mon is a script dated as far back as the sixth century, with inscriptions located on the current territory
of Thailand at Nakhon Pathom and Saraburi (Bauer 1991). The language was widely used in late antiquity.
Up to the twelfth century, Mon was the lingua franca of some south central areas of modern Myanmar.
These areas included the crucial Ayeyarwaddy River valleys, modern Bago and Bagan Kingdoms. Even
after the fall of Mon Kingdoms the language was supported by Bagan rulers, especially Kyansittha during
whose reign, 1084 to 1113, the Mon orthography was adopted as the basis for elaborating a written form
of the Myanmar language (Jenny 2013).
Demographic changes across the region, particularly along the Ayeyarwaddy Delta, and the influx of
accompanying languages, resulted in the Mon language acting as a ‘donor’ to other languages. This
occurred through the use of the Mon writing system, as well as through language contact at the level of
the grammar and lexicon (words). The Mon language was also a recipient of these types of exchanges
as well (Jenny 2013). It should be noted that there is sociolinguistic variation for Mon. As well as a Thai
version of Mon, there are also three dialect forms of Mon within Myanmar all of which are mutually
intelligible. These are usually called Central, Bago and Ye forms of Mon.
Over time, the influence of Mon began to lessen, which was exacerbated by the political control of
the British Empire. While other ethnic nationality communities “were the objects of patronage from
missionaries, and later state administrators, resulting in the promotion of indigenous language use and
related processes of identity consolidation” (Lall and South 2014, p. 308), Mon was not a beneficiary
of these processes. Language use became confined to traditional family and community life within
more homogenous Mon speaking areas. Monks played a critical role in recording the Mon language and
history, including religious history and remain to this day a key source of Mon language maintenance and
education (Lall and South 2014; South 2003).
National independence after 1948 precipitated a much steeper decline in the language. The sociolinguistic
effect of rapid changes caused by independence is such that today there is a great discrepancy between the
numbers who claim Mon ethnicity and those who use the Mon language. South (2003) reported that the
actual number of Mon speakers was “between 60-80,000”, which would not necessarily constitute serious
language endangerment (Lo Bianco 2014). However, it is impossible to contrast this with the percentage
of the wider Myanmar population who identify themselves as ethnic Mons, the numbers of actual Mon
speakers of a young age and other figures related to linguistic vitality as the data is not reliably available
(Lo Bianco 2014). South’s calculation contrasts with the Ethnologue report which summarizes the number
of people using the Mon language as, “743,000 in Myanmar (2004)” although this number is decreasing.
The Ethnologue report also states that the total Mon population in all countries is approximately 851,000,
with an ethnic population of 1,000,000 (Lewis, Simons, and Fennig 2015). Bradley (2015) calculates the
numbers at 400,000 plus. In all these calculations it is clear that Mon language knowledge and usage is
vastly reduced when speakers are contrasted to the number of people who identify as ethnically Mon. The
Ethnologue listing classifies Mon at level 5 or ‘Developing’, which is defined as:
The language is in vigorous use, with literature in a standardized form being used by some
though this is not yet widespread or sustainable” and in its Mon summary specifically says of
Mon: “Vigorous in some rural areas and in Three Pagodas border area. Low or no usage in urban
centers. Many domains in some communities; only among the elderly, in the monastery, or not
at all in other communities. All ages. Positive attitudes. Widespread bilingualism; some language
shift. Also use Burmese,” (Lewis, Simons, and Fennig 2015).
46
Myanmar Country Report
The geographic distribution between rural and urban is a telling and important danger signal, but Mon
is spoken by young people and enjoys positive attitudes, both of which could be promising for future
revitalization. The classification ‘Developing’ is point 5 on the 10 point (13 when we include subsidiary
classifications) Expanded Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale in which 0 is the highest point,
marking the highest level of vitality, in effect the lowest point of endangerment, and 10 as ‘extinct’
(see Lo Bianco 2014 for an extended discussion of classifications and documentation of language
endangerment).
These developments around the Mon language are not mirrored in relation to ethnicity and culture, since
a vibrant Mon identity or a Mon people are and have been considered a distinct ethnic presence within
the wider Myanmar/Burmese-Indochinese setting since the fall the Peguan (Bagan) Empire in the 1800s
(Hla 1992).
Overall, the period since national independence has proved deleterious to the language, due mainly
to the promotion of exclusive use of the Myanmar language, causing extensive attrition in the spoken
domains of Mon. While not all scholars agree, there is a widespread view that Mon should be considered
an endangered language due to its declining number of daily users, restricted domains for its use, and
its association with rebellion against the policies of the military governments that have tried to impose
linguistic uniformity. Prior to recent political ceasefires, Mon was only strong in areas where rebel forces
had gained control and established separatist education, especially those close to the Thai border. Since
establishment of a state parliament there have been many new moves to revitalize Mon, to encourage
and expand its use. In 2013, for the first time in 50 years, the Than Lwin Times, a newspaper based in
Mawlamyine, began publishing a small number of its pages in Mon, alongside the national language
(Mizzima 2013).
One of the most positive outcomes for the Mon language since the 1995 ceasefire in the Mon State
has been the development of models of mother tongue-based education. The New Mon State Party
(NMSP) administers more than 150 Mon National Schools, which provide mother tongue education at
the early primary levels, with students learning in the national language from the middle primary years.
The advantage of this model is that it enables students to continue their education and to take the
national matriculation examinations, allowing access to higher education. Additionally, as detailed above,
the Mon National Education Committee has established informal relationships with over 100 government
schools, whereby Mon speaking students study the national curriculum, but are provided with additional
instruction on Mon language and history (Lall and South 2014). In the estimation of Lall and South (2014),
the Mon education experience is a ‘useful model’ for wider education reform in the transitional state
of national education across Myanmar, and especially in its efforts to negotiate a form of decentralized
delivery of services.
10.2 The Mon State
After years of armed conflict and campaigning, a distinct Mon State was eventually established in 1974,
becoming the “second smallest ethnic state in Burma, but also the most densely populated” (South 2003,
p. 7). The Mon nationalist political movement was built on demands to preserve the unique heritage of
culture and languages. As South (2003, p. 23) states, “To be Mon is to identify with a certain territory, with
a distinct civilization and culture nearly two thousand years old, and with the Theravada Buddhist religion.
47
Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
Partly as a consequence of the prestige attached to Mon culture, the new Mon State is relatively wealthy
and unified, often ranked above national averages on social development indicators. Students from the
state often achieve top results in the national school examinations (UNICEF 2015). This is in part due to
the establishment of local committees who have assumed responsibility for education during the violent
conflicts that have beset the region since national independence.Since its establishment as a distinct
state, ethnic, cultural and literacy committees and organizations have become instrumental in leveraging
government to gain the right to teach, learn and participate in mother tongue language learning and cultural
activities. These groups not only lobby for the political power to self-determination and for economic
equality, but are also crucial in expressing the desire to revive and celebrate Mon cultural and linguistic
heritages (Pedersen 2008, p. 52). While international attention often frames Myanmar’s conflicts as
struggles between democracy and autocracy, many of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities, including the Mon
people, are focused more on establishing their rights to “practice their own cultures, including language,
literature, and religion, all of which are crucial to ethnic identities” (Pedersen 2008, p. 56).
10.3 Language policy challenges in Mon State
The underlying aims of the LESC Initiative in Mon State were to build an understanding of language and
its role as a gatekeeper of greater social, educational and economic benefits. This included developing
an understanding and consensus around the importance of mother tongue education. It also aimed to
bridge the gap between the practices and desires of Mon speakers and educators, and reconcile the use
of Mon with the national language as the medium of instruction.
The Mon State recently passed legislation promoting teaching of Mon language in state-run schools
for the first time in more than 50 years. Mon is only taught for one hour each day in primary school up
to Grade 4, but this start is crucially important to providing more educational opportunities for children
whose first language is Mon. The bill also provides ethnic Pa-O and Karen people living in Mon State the
opportunity to study their ethnic languages at school, which presents an opportunity to expand provision
of mother tongue-based MLE across Myanmar (UNICEF 2015). Exploring alternatives to the mandated
use of Myanmar as exclusive medium of instruction in state schools is critical because it has been
a significant barrier for children from non-Myanmar speaking households enrolled in primary grades
(UNICEF 2015). This exclusion has also been a barrier for students entering high school and results in
school dropouts and poor results in national schools, especially for predominantly Mon-speaking areas in
the southern and more rural parts of the State (UNICEF 2015).
While the introduction of one hour of instruction in Mon each day is a positive move, there is still somewhat
limited, but slowly increasing, cooperation between Mon National Education Committee schools and the
state sector (UNICEF 2015). Increases have been seen in the training and financial support for teachers,
as well as the provision of increased funding for schools. However, a far more comprehensive approach to
language planning and policy is required in order to systematically and sustainably advance language-related
tensions at the educational and broader societal level, and was the focus of the LESC Initiative in Mon State.
48
Myanmar Country Report
An extension of the original LESC Initiative is underway in 2015–16. The objectives of the LESC extension
are the development of peacebuilding and social cohesion promoting language policies in Myanmar at
the national level, as well as at the state level in some instances. The Initiative is detailed below, along
with a graphic overview of the process (Figure 2) and overview of language policy development process:
As outlined in Figure 2 following, the language policy process will consist of three key components:
1. Development of the language policy principles through consultation with the relevant working groups
and the incorporation of feedback and questionnaire feedback.
2. Dialogues and consultations – this component of the project will involve carrying out
a. Facilitated Dialogues in a number of states
b. Union-wide Facilitated Dialogues; the first Dialogue to seek feedback and discussion of draft
principles for language policy and their endorsement and a second Dialogue to discuss, modify
and endorse the final policy draft
c. Field trips at the state level for policy input negotiations
d. Consultations in relation to a special needs component to the language policy
3. The commissioning of four specialist inputs to inform the above steps through detailed papers written
by experts on a sociolinguistic map of the languages of Myanmar, English and its role in Myanmar
society, special needs and inclusive education provision, as well as a case study and photo essay of
MLE practices in Myanmar.
The final policy document, as detailed in Figure 3 below, will consist of a range of integrated but separate
publications. It is envisaged that these would appear in separate volumes. The first will be compromised
of the policy goals – the nationally agreed and endorsed principles for a Union-wide language policy.
Related and integrated state level policies for a number of states will be included.
Following from field visits and other consultation processes and the above, state models will be templates
for language policy development processes in general and for states/districts and other parts of Myanmar
to devise locally relevant applications. This compendium, either in the same volume or separately, will
also include an action-implementation plan and donor promises to support the overall plan or individual
components.
11
Additional developments
49
Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
Figure 3: Myanmar language policy and documentation process
Figure 2: Overview of policy development process
Draft language
policy
(fusing and incorporating all
of these proceses and inputs,
preparing and consulting
on implementation plans,
for endorsement at
the 2nd Union
Wide FD)
Facilitated Dialogue
Consultation
• Union-wide(x3)
• Monstate(x3)
• Kayinstate(x3)
• Specialneeds
consultations (x2)
• ShanandKachinstate
field trips
• Actioninotherstates
• Circulationofprinciples
with working groups
• Incorporationoffeedback
and questionaire
responses
• Observations,FieldVisits,
Interviews, Policy
Policy & Principles
Union, State (Mon and Kaying + Templates
approx 30 pages
Action Plan
50 pages: including overall action plan,
elaborations of key points in the policy
donor promises to support components
of,. e.g. UNESCO, UNICEF, DFID, British
Council, JICA & CIDA
Commissioned papers,
documents, essays
~150 pages: To include all commissioned
inputs (sociolinguistics of Myanmar;
English in Myanmar and ASEAN, special
needs, case studies, photo essay, profiles
of key initiatives and agencies, reflections
and observations, and details of the entire
process and participants involved.
Specialist inputs
• Thelanguagesof
Myanmar
• EnglishinMyanmarand
ASEAN
• Specialneeds(deafness
and visual impairment)
• Casestudiesof
multilingualism, at
community and local
school level
• PolicyEnvironment
Scan
50
Myanmar Country Report
Aye, Khin Khin, and Peter Sercombe, ‘Language, Education and Nation-Building in Myanmar’, in Language,
Education and Nation-Building, edited by Peter Sercombe and Ruanni Tupas, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014,
pp. 148–164.
Ball, Jessica, Enhancing Learning of Children from Diverse Language Backgrounds: Mother tongue-based
bilingual or multilingual education in the early years, UNESCO, Paris, 2011, <http:/unesdoc.unesco.org/
images/0021/002122/212270e.pdf>.
Bauer, Christian, ‘Notes on Mon Epigraphy’, Journal of the Siam Society, vol. 79 no. 1, 1991, pp. 31–83.
Bradley, David, ed., Tibeto-Burman Languages of the Himalayas, Pacific Linguistics, Canberra, 1997, A-86.
Bradley, David, ‘Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam’, in The Routledge Handbook of
Sociolinguistics Around the World, edited by Martin John Ball, Routledge, London and New York, 2010,
pp. 98–107.
––––, The Languages of Myanmar, report commissioned for Joseph Lo Bianco, UNICEF Myanmar project,
Towards a Peace Promoting National Language Policy for Myanmar, unpublished, UNICEF, 2015.
Brown, Michael Edward, and Sumit Ganguly, eds., Fighting Words: Language policy and ethnic relations
in Asia. Mit Press, Cambridge, 2003.
Burling, Robbins, ‘The Tibeto-Burman languages of northeast India’, in Sino-Tibetan Languages edited by
Graham Thurgood and Randy J. LaPolla, Routledge, London, 2003, pp. 169–191.
Callahan, Mary P., ‘Language Policy in Modern Burma’, in Fighting Words: Language policy and ethnic
relations in Asia, edited by Michael Edward Brown and Sumit Ganguly, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2003, pp.
143–177.
Della-Giacoma, Jim, and Richard Horsey, ‘A House Divided: Finding Peace in Multiethnic Myanmar’, World
Politics Review, 10 September 2013, <www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/13200/a-house-divided-
finding-peace-in-multiethnic-myanmar>.
Ganesan, Narayanan, and Kyaw Yin Hlaing, eds., Myanmar: State, society and ethnicity, Institute of
Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, 2007.
References
12
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
Hla, Nai Pan, The Significant Role of the Mon Language and Culture in Southeast Asia, Institute for the
Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo, 1992.
Hlaing, Kyaw Yin, ‘The Politics of Language Policy in Myanmar: Imagining togetherness, practising
difference?’, in Language, Nation, and Development in Southeast Asia, edited by Lee Hock Guan and Leo
Suryadinata, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore 2007, pp. 150–180.
Jenny, Mathias, ‘The Mon Language: Recipient and donor between Burmese and Thai’, Journal of
Language and Culture, vol. 31, no. 2, 2013, pp. 5–33.
Lall, Marie, and Ashley South, ‘Comparing Models of Non-state Ethnic Education in Myanmar: The Mon
and Karen national education regimes’, Journal of Contemporary Asia, vol. 44, no. 2, 2014, pp. 298–321.
DOI:10.1080/00472336.2013.823534
Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig, eds., ‘Myanmar’, Ethnologue: Languages of the
World, Seventeenth Edition, SIL International, Dallas, Texas, 2013, <http://www.ethnologue.com>.
Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons and Charles D. Fennig, eds., Ethnologue, Languages of Malaysia, SIL
International, Dallas, Texas, 2015, <http://www.ethnologue.com>.
Lo Bianco, Joseph, ‘Documenting Language Loss and Endangerment: Research, tools, and
approaches, in Handbook of Heritage, Community, and Native American languages in the United
States, edited by Terrence G. Wiley, Joy Kreeft Peyton, Donna Christian, Sarah Catherine Moore
and Na Liu, Routledge, New York, NY, 2014, pp. 54–65.
––––, Synthesis Report Language, Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative in Malaysia Myanmar
and Thailand, UNICEF, EAPRO, Bangkok, Thailand, 2015.
Michaels, Samantha, ‘Pan-Ethnic Network Launches to Promote Multilingual Education in Burma’,
The Irrawaddy, 21 February 2014, <www.irrawaddy.org/burma/pan-ethnic-network-launches-promote-
multilingual-education-burma.html>.
Mizzima, ‘First Mon Language Newspaper in 50 Years to be Published’, 13 February 2013, <http://
archive-2.mizzima.com/news/inside-burma/8898-first-mon-language-newspaper-in-50-years-to-be-
published.html>.
Multilingual Education Working Group, Asia-Pacific, MTB-MLE Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual
Education: Lessons learned from a decade of research and practice, MLE WG, 2013, <http://unesdoc.
unesco.org/images/0023/002318/231865E.pdf>.
Pedersen, Morton B. ‘Burma’s Ethnic Minorities: Charting their own path to peace, Critical Asian Studies,
vol. 40, no. 1, 2008, pp. 45–66.
Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organization and The World Bank, Mother Tongue as a Bridge
Language of Instruction: Policies and experiences in Southeast Asia, SEAMEO, Bangkok, 2009, <http://
siteresources.worldbank.org/EDUCATION/Resources/278200-1099079877269/547664-1099079993288/
Language_of_Instruction_SAR1.pdf>.
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South, Ashley, Mon Nationalism and Civil War in Burma: The Golden Sheldrake, Routledge, London and
New York, 2003.
South, Ashley, and Marie Lall, ‘The Peace Process and Ethnic Education in Myanmar’, Democratic Voice
of Burma, 18 October 2015, <www.dvb.no/analysis/ethnic-education-political-transition-and-the-peace-
process-in-burma-myanmar/58229>.
Taylor, Stephan, and Marisa Coetzee, ‘Mother-Tongue Classrooms Give a Better Boost to English Study
Later’ , Mail & Guardian, 18 October 2013, <http://mg.co.za/article/2013-10-18-mother-tongue-classrooms-
give-a-better-boost-to-english-study-later>.
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Ministry of Education The CESR Review Phase 1, Rapid Assessment
Reports (various), 2013, <http://www.cesrmm.org/index.php/en/documents>.
Tochon, Francois Victor, Help Them Learn a Language Deeply, International Network for Language
Education Policy Studies, Madison, 2014.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Promoting Literacy in Multilingual
Settings, UNESCO, Bangkok, 2006, <http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001507/150704e.pdf>.
––––, Strong Foundations: Education for All – EFA Global Monitoring Report 2007, UNESCO, Paris, 2007,
<www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/efareport/reports/2007-
early-childhood/>.
––––, Mother Tongue Matters. UNESCO, Paris, 2008, <http:/unesdoc.unesco.org/
images/0015/001507/150704e.pdf>.
––––, Multilingual Education: Why is it important? How to implement it?, UNESCO, 2014, <http://unesdoc.
unesco.org/images/0022/002265/226554e.pdf>.
United Nations Children’s Fund, PBEA Outcome Case Study: Development of an Inclusive Language in
Education Policy in Mon State, UNICEF, Myanmar, 2015.
Watkins, Justin, ‘Burma/Myanmar’, in Language and National Identity in Asia, edited by Andrew Simpson,
Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007, pp. 274–287.
1. Concept note: Language, Education and Social Cohesion Initiative,
Myanmar (English and Myanmar versions) 54
2. Organizations and offices consulted for the LESC Myanmar Initiative 69
3. Agenda Mae Sot Facilitated Dialogue 73
4. MINE press release (English and Myanmar versions) 78
5. Ethnic Language and Education Declaration (MINE)
(English and Myanmar versions) 83
6. MINE working action plan 119
7. Agenda Mawlamyine Facilitated Dialogue (May) 125
8. Mon State policy and planning preamble and press release 129
9. Agenda Mawlamyine Facilitated Dialogue (November) 133
10. Feedback summary Mawlamyine Facilitated Dialogue (May) 134
11. Agenda Naypyidaw Facilitated Dialogue (July) 137
12. Feedback summary Naypyidaw Facilitated Dialogue 141
13
Appendices
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
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Myanmar Country Report
Concept Note
Dr Joseph Lo Bianco, AM
Professor of Language and Literacy Education
Graduate School of Education
University of Melbourne
Introduction
This ‘concept note’ reports the initial orientation to research and related activities of the Language,
Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) initiative, a component of the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific
Regional Office (EAPRO) Education and Social Cohesion multi-country project. This initiative is part of the
international Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy Programme, supported by UNICEF in 14 counties
globally and aims to address underlying issues that lead to education systems building peace and social
cohesion – or exacerbating existing tensions which can lead to conflict. In the case of this multi-country
initiative, this includes a review of language policy and planning, citizenship and ethnicity concerns in
educational contexts.
Four UNICEF Country Offices replied positively to the invitation to participate in the ‘language and
ethnicity’ component of the EAPRO project: Malaysia, Myanmar, Solomon Islands and Thailand. Each
country can describe and title the initiative differently – selecting terms such as social cohesion,
citizenship, integration of minorities, or ‘peacebuilding’ according to local preferences and priorities,
given that different terms can have quite different meanings in different contexts and cultures and that
some terms are politically and culturally ‘loaded’. Language, Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) is a
temporary title of convenience to allow the project to get underway.
Preparatory research, document collection, expert consultations and other preliminaries has
commenced for all four country sites involved in LESC. In-country familiarization visits and
consultations with public officials, school level personnel and research agencies were undertaken
in December 2012 in Thailand and Malaysia. This concept note represents the initial phase for the
Myanmar component of LESC.
Appendix 1:
Concept note: Language, Education
and Social Cohesion: Myanmar
(English and Myanmar versions)
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
Project Context
The overall programme has been funded by the Government of the Netherlands in response to a UNICEF
Headquarters proposal, which defines Education for Peacebuilding to include both Social Cohesion and
Resilience with direct links to the broader issues of Disaster Risk Reduction and emergency preparedness
and response, of language policies and social exclusion (including gender) in education, of educational
and socio-economic disparities, and of building on the dividends of peace.
Common to all four countries involved in LESC is research and ‘intervention’ activities exploring policy and
planning, current practices and prevailing attitudes and values related to language throughout education
systems, with a view to their context in civil society, public policy and the labour market so far as these
condition and shape language and ethnicity issues.
Myanmar Context
LESC research and intervention activities will take place in the context of the Government of Myanmar
initiative, supported by diverse Development Partners, to undertake a Comprehensive Education Sector
Review (CESR), as part of a general national reform agenda whose principal aim is to raise economic and
social development. An overarching goal of this process and related reform agendas currently underway
is to foster the development of a “modern developed nation through education” (Myanmar Ministry of
Education, vision statement, 2004) and the wider 30 Year Long Term Basic Education Development Plan,
2001–2031. Critically relevant are the overarching constitutional provisions for the national language, for
multilingualism and for the distribution and outcomes of education provision and employment/economic
opportunity.
The Myanmar sociolinguistic profile is very complex, comprising more than 110 spoken languages
(accompanied by an unknown number of sign languages), with seven main ‘ethnic’ language clusters
Chin, Kachin, Kayah (Karenni), Kayin (Karen), Mon, Rakhine and Shan, spoken by more than 23 million
people and distributed within correspondingly named State administrations (Lewis 2009). Another
group of about 11 languages can be identified with speaker populations exceeding 100,000 each.
Within this great diversity there are a large number of nested dialects and many highly variable multi-
literate realities, including many languages lacking orthographic standardization (Burling 2003). The
national language, Myanmar, is represented across the national territory, claiming 32 million speakers
but highly variable rates of knowledge of its standard forms, and of its literacy.
The nature of cross-language bilingualism/multilingualism, and knowledge of foreign languages,
knowledge of and use of ‘proximal’ languages (Chinese and Indian languages), are distributed in
a highly variable pattern of urban/rural and shaped by education levels, occupation and mobility
(Bradley 1997; Lewis 2009). A true sociolinguistic profile would also need to be sensitive to levels
and distribution of sign languages, communication systems for the language disabled and other
communication questions that impact on access to education or training, and prospects of access to
remunerated employment.
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Myanmar Country Report
LESC and the CESR
The on-going Rapid Assessment phase of the CESR, which will be completed in early 2013, will inform
LESC activity, which could conceivably be seen as a key element of CESR Phases II and/or III, intended
to last through to December 2013 and mid-2014 respectively.
LESC will take a comprehensive language planning approach, involving early childhood education,
primary schooling and post-primary education. It will aim to offer concrete methods of language planning
to support multi-lingual education in ethnic minority languages, in Myanmar (national language) and
in strategic foreign languages (i.e., English as primary grade subjects, and as medium of instruction
in grades 10 and 11) - guided by the principles elaborated below. A comprehensive approach will be
prepared in consultation with all relevant policy, community and research interests in the Myanmar
context looking at:
• Integrated language and literacy education (medium of instruction, relation of rst, second and
additional languages, links between literacy and curriculum content, pedagogy, notions of bilingualism
and conceptual development, identity and inter-culturalism, transition points and sequencing in
curriculum, etc);
• The Myanmar reform priority, as I understand it presently, is to shift from English to bilingual
(Myanmar/English) medium in mathematical and science subjects in upper secondary grades; this
too and related questions of assessment, training and materials development should comprise part
of the comprehensive approach;
• Thebeginningpointwillbetoexploreoutcomeprociencyskillsdesiredbythecommunityofinterests
(speaker groups, policy makers, researchers, etc) in relation to the likely communicative outcomes
from current provision with proposals for overcoming gaps and deficiencies identified;
• Theworkwill be sensitiveto questionsof literacy, conceptdevelopment and school participation;
equity and access; drop out and discontinuation and re-entry possibilities; identity and citizenship; and
economy and labour market questions;
• The approach will be guided by principles of effective language outcomes, language rights and
opportunities, social cohesion and national unity in the context of the recognition of diversity and
pluralism and the opportunity for all, mainstream and minority populations alike, to gain the spoken
proficiency, literate and cultural knowledge and skills to support equal opportunity and full participation
in national life;
The overarching objective should be to foster and integrated, coordinated and comprehensive evidence-
based policy on language education; with facilitated deliberations to gain stakeholder commitment to the
aims and requirements of full and effective implementation.
Proposed Method and Approach
In keeping with the LESC approach in Thailand and Malaysia the research phases of the LESC will address
the following three spheres:
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
Questions of context - essentially socio-linguistic, but also economic, and political issues. Scripts, literature,
literacy, diglossia, who speaks what to whom, the local status of language and the wider status of languages
nationally, national language issues and language ecology in proximal areas should all be considered.
Questions of feasibility - essentially to be pragmatic, what is realistic? Consider issues of education and
training systems for pre-, primary, secondary, post; technical and university; as well as practical issues
around teachers, curriculum and programme models. What are some technological and new media
possibilities?
Questions of purpose - exactly why are we pursuing bilingual education? What are the i) socio-cultural, ii)
economic-political and iii) educational aims, desires, expectations, experiences and each of these three
spheres can be seen from insider and outsider perspectives. In facilitated deliberations, the aim will be
to gain stakeholder commitment to an overarching and integrated national language education policy.
These three spheres will be used to develop categories of ‘question’, which in turn will be informed
in each setting by sampling of documentation related to the following sources to produce a credible
research and evidence basis for informing public policy.
• Legal Texts  -  constitution,  education  act,  citizenship  (to  answer  the question: what is the
authorizing remit for the activity);
• Central  Jurisdiction  -  Ministries  of  Education  (curriculum,  textbooks, indigenous minorities),
Ministry of Culture (indigenous affairs, internal affairs), Language Apex body (NL as L2)---Academic
Centres, Ethnic Centres, Local Schools, headmasters and teachers; to answer questions on the
sphere of administration and cultural authority for the activity);
• CivilSociety:Religious,Social,Business,Labour,etc(asabove);
• Devolved Jurisdiction: District literacy and education  support  and delivery agencies, Ethnic
organizations (to answer the question, what can be reliably delivered);
• Supra-National:RELC,ASEAN,UNagencies,NGOs
• PublicMedia:Pressandotherreporting
• AcademicSources:PhDtheses,publishedacademicworks
The processes to be followed will include the following:
a. Desk review – collecting and reviewing a wide range of documentation to include critical literature and
document review pertaining to education and language policies and practices, to education and peace
building, social cohesions and resilience and to education for ethnic groups and linguistic minorities
in different contexts;
b. Initial visits to NPT and Yangon, as well as to 1-2 States/Regions for stakeholder and key informant
interviews, additional document compilation, identification of additional key informants and issues,
and planning for follow up visits
c. Follow up visits for more in depth interviews and data collection, including with local leaders,
Headmasters, etc.
d. Sharing of initial findings, analysis and recommendations and preparation of Report
e. Preparation for and eventual implementation of facilitated deliberations around comprehensive
language education planning and policy.
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Myanmar Country Report
References
Bradley, David, Tibeto-Burman languages of the Himalayas, Papers in South East Asian Linguistics, 14,
Pacific Linguistics, Australian National University, Canberra, 1997, pp. 1–71.
Burling, Robbins, ‘The Tibeto-Burman languages of northeast India’, in Sino-Tibetan Languages edited by
Graham Thurgood and Randy J. LaPolla, Routledge, London, 2003, pp. 169–191.
Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig, eds., ‘Myanmar’, Ethnologue: Languages of the
World, Sixteenth Edition, SIL International, Dallas, Texas, 2009, <http://www.ethnologue.com>.
Government of the Union of Myanmar, Ministry of Education, Development of Education in
Myanmar, September 2004, <http://www.ibe.unesco.org/International/ICE47/English/Natreps/reports/
mya nmar_ocr.pdf> accessed 28 November 2012.
59
Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
ဘာသာစကား၊ ပညာေရးႏွင့္ လူမႈေရး
ပါင္းစည္းညီညြတ္္မ ဆိုင္ရ အေတြးျမင္မ်ား
Dr Joseph Lo Bianco, AM
Professor of Language and Literacy Education
Graduate School of Education
University of Melbourne
60
Myanmar Country Report
စကားခ်ီး
သေဘာတရားစာတမ္းသည္ UNICEF အေရွ႕ေတာင္ အာရွ ႏွင့္ ပစိဖိတ္
ေဒသဆိုင္ရာ ရံုး (EAPRO) မွ ပညာေရးႏွင့္ လူမႈေရးနယ္ပယ္တို႕ ညီၫႊတ္မွ်တစြာ ေပါင္းစည္းျခင္း
ဆိုင္ရာ ႏိုင္ငံေပါင္းစံုပါ၀င္ေသာ စီမံကိန္းၾကီး၏ တစ္စိတ္တစ္ေဒသ ျဖစ္ေသာ ဘာသာစကား၊
ပညာေရးႏွင့္ လူမႈေရးနယ္ပယ္တို႔ ညီၫႊတ္မွ်တစြာ ေပါင္းစည္းေရး ဦးေဆာင္မႈလုပ္ငန္း (LESC)
ႏွင့္ပတ္သတ္သည့္ လုပ္ငန္းေဆာင္တာမ်ားႏွင့္ သုေတသန လုပ္ငန္းမ်ား အတြက္ ကနဦး
လုိအပ္ခ်က္မ်ားကို တင္ျပထားျခင္း ျဖစ္ပါသည္။ ဦးေဆာင္မႈလုပ္ငန္း သည္ UNICEF မွ
ကမာၻ႕ႏိုင္ငံ ၁၄ခုတြင္ ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရးႏွွင့္ လူမႈေရးတို႕ အခ်ိဳးညီၫႊတ္စြာ ေပါင္းစည္းေပးႏိုင္ေသာ
ပညာေရး စနစ္ တည္ေထာင္ႏိုင္ေရးႏွင့္ စပ္လွ်င္းေသာ ကိစၥမ်ား သုိ႔မဟုတ္ ပဋိပကၡမ်ား အျဖစ္သုိ႔
ဦးတည္သြား ေစႏိုင္သည့္ ရွိရင္းစြဲ တင္းမာမႈမ်ားကို ပိုမိုဆိုး၀ါးေအာင္လုပ္ေဆာင္ေနျခင္းႏွင့္
စပ္လွ်င္ေသာ အေရးကိစၥမ်ားကို ေျဖရွင္းႏိုင္ရန္ ရည္ရြယ္ခ်က္ထား၍ က်ယ္ျပန္႕စြာ
အေကာင္အထည္ေဖၚလွ်က္ရွိေသာ အျပည္ျပည္ဆိုင္ရာ ျငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရး တည္ေဆာက္ျခင္း၊ ပညာေရး
ႏွင့္ ေထာက္ပံ့ေပးျခင္း အစီအစဥ္၏ အစိတ္အပိုင္းတစ္ခုလည္း ျဖစ္ပါသည္။ ထိုကဲ့သို႕ ႏိုင္ငံစံုတြင္
စတင္ အေကာင္အထည္ ေဖၚရသည့္အတြက္ ယခုစာတမ္းတြင္ ဘာသာစကား မူ၀ါဒမ်ားႏွင့္
အစီအစဥ္မ်ား၊ ႏိုင္ငံသားတစ္ဦး၏ ရပိုင္ခြင့္ႏွင့္ တာ၀န္မ်ား၊ လူမ်ိဳးစု တစ္စုႏွင့္ ပက္သက္သည့္
အေရး ကိစၥ မ်ားကို ပညာေရး ရႈေထာင့္မွ သံုးသပ္ျပထားပါသည္။
EAPRO စီမံကိန္း၏ “ဘာသာစကားႏွင့္ လူမ်ိဳးစုအပိုင္းတြင္ ပူးေပါင္းပါ၀င္ လုပ္ေဆာင္ရန္
ဖိတ္ေခၚမႈကို မေလးရွားႏိုင္ငံ၊ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ၊ ေဆာ္လမြန္ကၽြန္းစုမ်ားႏိုင္ငံ ႏွင့္ ထိုင္းႏိုင္ငံတို႔ရွိ UNICEF
ရံုးမ်ားမွ အျပဳသေဘာေဆာင္စြာ အေၾကာင္းျပန္ခဲ့ ၾကပါသည္။ လူမႈေရးဆိုင္ရာ ညီၫႊတ္မွ်တစြာ
ေပါင္းစည္းျခင္း၊ ႏိုင္ငံသားတစ္ဦး၏ ရပို္င္ခြင့္ႏွင့္တာ၀န္မ်ား၊ လူနည္းစုမ်ား ကို ေပါင္းစည္း
ညီၫႊတ္္ေစျခင္း သို႔မဟုတ္ ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရး တည္ေဆာက္ျခင္း စသည္ ေခါင္းစဥ္အမ်ိဳးမ်ိဳးကို
ေရြးခ်ယ္ရာတြင္ ယဥ္ေက်းမႈ ဓေလ့ထံုးတမ္းမ်ား ကြဲျပားသည္ႏွင့္အမွ် ခါင္းစဥ္အမ်ိဳးမ်ိဳးသည္
အဓိပၸါယ္အမ်ိဳးမိ်ဳး သက္ေရာက္ႏိုင္သည့္ အျပင္ အခ်ိဳ႕ ေခါင္းစဥ္မ်ားသည္ ႏိုင္ငံေရးအရ
ေသာ္လည္းေကာင္း ယဥ္ေက်းမႈအရ ေသာ္လည္းေကာင္း ၀န္ထုပ္၀န္ပိုး ျဖစ္ေစႏို္င္သည့္ အတြက္
ႏိုင္ငံ တစ္ႏို္င္ငံခ်င္း၊ ေဒသတစ္ခုခ်င္း၏ အေရးေပးမႈႏွင့္ ဦးစားေပးမႈအေပၚတြင္ မူတည္၍
ေခါင္းစဥ္မ်ား ေရြးခ်ယ္ျခင္းျဖစ္သျဖင့္ ႏိုင္ငံတစ္ႏိုင္ငံႏွင့္ တစ္ႏို္င္ငံ အေကာင္အထည္ေဖၚ
ေဆာင္ရြက္ရာတြင္ အေသးစိတ္အခ်က္မ်ားႏွင့္ အမည္မ်ားပါ ျခားနားႏိုင္ပါသည္။ ဘာသာစကား၊
ပညာေရးႏွင့္ လူမႈေရးနယ္ပယ္တို႔ ညီၫႊတ္မွ်တစြာ ေပါင္းစည္းေရး ဦးေဆာင္မႈလုပ္ငန္း (LESC)
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Language Education and Social Cohesion (LESC) Initiative
ဟုေသာ အမည္မွာလည္း ဤစီမံကိန္း ေပၚေပါက္လာေစရန္ အတြက္ အဆင္ေျပေစရန္
ယာယီေပးထားေသာ အမည္ျဖစ္ပါသည္။
LESC တြင္ပါ၀င္မည့္ ႏိုင္ငံ ေလးႏိုင္ငံလံုး အတြက္ ႀကိဳတင္ျပင္ဆင္ျခင္းဆိုင္ရာ
သုေတသနျပဳလုပ္ျခင္း၊ စာရြက္စာတမ္း စုေဆာင္းျခင္း၊ ကၽြမ္းက်င္သူမ်ား၏ အၾကံေပးျခင္းမ်ား ႏွင့္
အျခား အႀကိဳေဆာင္ရြက္ဖြယ္ ရွိသည္တို႔ကို စတင္ေဆာင္ရြက္ေနၿပီ ျဖစ္ပါသည္။
သက္ဆိုင္ရာႏိုင္ငံ၏ ဓေလ့ထံုးစံမ်ားႏွင့္ ရင္းႏွီးကၽြမ္း၀င္မႈရွိေစရန္ အတြက္
လာေရာက္လည္ပတ္ျခင္းႏွင့္ ဌာနဆိုင္ရာ အရာရွိမ်ား၊ ေက်ာင္း အဆင့္ တာ၀န္ရွိသူမ်ားႏွင့္
သုေတသန အဖြဲ႔အစည္းမ်ား ႏွင့္ ေတြ႔ဆံုေဆြးေႏြး အၾကံေပးျခင္းတို႔ ကို ၂၀၁၂ ခုႏွစ္၊
ဒီဇင္ဘာလတြင္ ထိုင္းႏိုင္ငံႏွင့္ မေလးရွားႏိုင္ငံတို႔တြင္ ေဆာင္ရြက္ခဲ့ပါသည္။ ဤသေဘာတရား
စာတမ္း သည္ LESC ၏ ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံ ႏွင့္ သက္ဆုိင္သည့္ အပိုင္းအတြက္ ကနဦး အဆင့္ တစ္ခုကို
ကိုယ္စားျပဳပါသည္။
စီမံကိန္းဆိုင္ရာ အခ်က္အလက္မ်ား
UNICEF ဌာနခ်ဳပ္ အဆိုျပဳလႊာအရ ယခု အစီအစဥ္တစ္ခုလံုးကို နယ္သာလန္ႏိုင္ငံ အစိုးရ မွ
ရန္ပံုေငြ ေထာက္ပံ့ေပးထားပါသည္။ အဆိုပါ အဆိုျပဳလႊာတြင္ သဘာ ေဘးအႏၲရယ္
တားဆီးကာကြယ္ေရးႏွင့္ အေရးေပၚ အေျခအေနအတြက္ ႀကိဳတင္ကာကြယ္မႈႏွင့္ ျဖစ္ေပၚလာပါက
ခ်က္ခ်င္း ေဆာင္ရြက္ျခင္းတုိ႔ႏွင့္ စပ္လွ်င္း၍ လည္းေကာင္း၊ ပညာေရးတြင္ ဘာသာစကား
မူ၀ါဒမ်ားႏွင့္ က်ားမ ခြဲျခားမႈမ်ား အပါအ၀င္ လူမႈေရး ခြဲျခားမႈမ်ား ႏွင့္ စပ္လွ်င္း၍ လည္းေကာင္း၊
ပညာေရးႏွင့္ လူမႈစီးပြားေရး တို႕ ကြာဟခ်က္မ်ားႏွင့္ စပ္လွ်င္း၍ လည္းေကာင္း၊ ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရး ခြဲေ၀မႈ
အေျခခံ အေဆာက္အဦး မ်ားႏွင့္ စပ္လွ်င္း၍ လည္းေကာင္း ေပၚေပါက္လာေသာ က်ယ္ျပန္႔သည့္
ျပႆနာရပ္မ်ားႏွင့္ တိုက္ရိုက္ ဆက္ႏြယ္မႈရွိသည့္ ျပန္လည္ထူေထာင္ေရး လုပ္ငန္းစဥ္မ်ား၊
လူမႈေရးႏွင့္ ညီၫႊတ္မွ်တစြာ ေပါင္းစည္းျခင္းမ်ား ပါ၀င္သည့္ “ၿငိမ္းခ်မ္းေရးတည္ေဆာက္မႈ အတြက္
ပညာေရး”ကို ေဖၚျပ ဖြင့္ဆိုထားပါသည္။
LESC အစီအစဥ္တြင္ ပါ၀င္ေသာ ႏိုင္ငံ ေလးႏိုင္ငံလံုးတြင္ တူညီေသာ လုပ္ငန္းစဥ္မ်ားမွာ
သုေတသန လုပ္ငန္းႏွင့္ အကူးအေျပာင္း ကာလတြင္ ေလ့လာရမည့္ လုပ္ေဆာင္ခ်က္မ်ား ျဖစ္ေသာ
မူ၀ါဒ ခ်မွတ္ျခင္းႏွင့္ အစီအစဥ္မ်ား ေရးဆြဲျခင္း၊ ပညာေရးစနစ္တစ္ေလွ်ာက္
ဘာသာစကားသင္ၾကားမႈ ႏွင့္ ပက္သက္သည့္ လက္ရွိ အေလ့အက်င့္၊ ရွိရင္းစြဲ သေဘာထားမ်ား၊
တန္ဖိုးထားမႈမ်ား ႏွင့္တကြ ဘာသာစကားႏွင့္ လူမ်ိဳး ျပႆနာမ်ား ျဖစ္ေပၚေစသည့္
ျပည္သူလူထုႏွင့္ ဆိုင္ေသာလူ႕အဖြဲ႕အစည္း၊ အမ်ားျပည္သူႏွင့္ ဆိုင္ေသာ မူ၀ါဒ ႏွင့္ အလုပ္သမား