European Union to support education in Myanmar with EUR 221 million
On 21 March 2019, in the presence of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, EU Ambassador Kristian Schmidt and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Planning and Finance U Tun Tun Naing officially launched the education budget support programme of the European Union (EU) in Myanmar. The ceremony was attended by Union Minister of Education Dr Myo Thein Gyi, Union Minister of Planning and Finance U Soe Win, and officials of their respective ministries and the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations. The EU's support will contribute to equal access to better quality education for all students in Myanmar with EUR 221 million (more than MMK 380 billion).
At the ceremony, Dr Myo Thein Gyi, Union Minister of Education said: “The European Union’s EUR 221 million grant to the Ministry of Education has been provided as a sign of partnership and trust, and as a sign that the European Union shares our Government's ambition to dramatically improve the education outcomes in Myanmar. Education is the best possible investment in our country's democratic federal future. Since 2016, the Government has significantly increased budget allowance for the education sector every fiscal year. So, the EU support will also supplement the Government's investment in education."
Ambassador Kristian Schmidt reiterated the EU's strong commitment to support education reforms: "The EU is very proud to be Myanmar’s partner in reforming and improving education. With knowledge and skills come hope, opportunities for a better life, open mindsets and the ability to take part in society and shape the future — we believe youth in Myanmar deserves better schools and training to free their potential."
Between 2019 and 2022, the EU will provide EUR 175 million (more than MMK 300 billion), through direct financial transfers to the Ministry of Education budget, for the improvement of secondary education and technical and vocational education and training (TVET), as well as public finance management. A further EUR 46 million (MMK 80 billion) is allocated for technical expert assistance to the government in achieving these improvements.
The EU programme will assist the implementation of core reforms in the National Education Strategic Plan 2016-2021, focusing on equal access to better quality secondary education and TVET. It will support the Ministry of Education in modernising curricula, teaching methods and assessment systems in secondary education and TVET, to ensure that they are more responsive to the needs of the labour market and to increase completion rates. It also aims at improving quality, transparency and accountability in the public finance management and budget oversight systems, to support more effective delivery of education services.
In addition to the EUR 221 million education sector support, the EU will invest EUR 20 million (MMK 35 billion) to specifically improve access to quality education in ethnic areas. This will help strengthen the quality of services delivered by existing ethnic education systems and build their capacity for policy advocacy on education in the peace process. It will also promote a closer collaboration between the Government and non-governmental education providers.
As part of its EUR 221 million grant to the Ministry of Education, EU assistance will take the form of a EUR 175 million education sector budget support programme for the fiscal years 2018-19 to 2022-23. Budget support is a method for providing EU grants through direct financial transfers to the national treasury. The funds will thus be used as part of Myanmar's education budget spending, being an expression of the EU’s strong support to the democratically elected government. This is the first EU budget support programme in Myanmar, and represents a fundamental change in the way the EU operates in the country.
During the preparation of this programme there was extensive dialogue between the EU and the Government on the intended reforms in secondary education and TVET, and in public finance management. This led to mutual agreement on a set of annual targets for the disbursement of payments from the EU budget support funds. These discussions were also the basis for a decision to set aside EUR 46 million for technical assistance to support the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Planning and Finance, and the Parliament to meet their commitments. Technical assistance will be provided through the Asian Development Bank, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, and the World Bank.