Paper

Reform, COVID-19, and the Coup: Myanmar Teachers’ Voice in Authoritative Institutional Culture and During Crisis Time

Thu Ya Aung, Texas State University

Panel

Myanmar Amidst a Pandemic and a Coup

Abstract

Myanmar education started to become centralized just before the country's independence from the British in 1948. Since then, centralization has gained momentum, particularly during the successive authoritarian regimes after the 1962 coup. With the transition to a pseudo-democratic government in 2011, Myanmar embarked on education reform. However, the top-down nature of policy implementation is still prevalent despite some decentralization moves. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the education reform process, and schools have been closed for about a year. After the military staged a coup on February 1, the situation has been deteriorating day by day. Despite all of the chaos, the State Administrative Council (SAC), which was founded by the military, has been organizing training workshops and pressuring all school principals and teachers to attend. Many teachers have joined the Civil Disobedience Movement to prevent the SAC from fully running the government. In fact, the voice of Myanmar teachers was virtually silenced before the 2011 political transition. However, with the establishment of teachers' unions, teachers have been able to reveal their voices after the 2011 political transition, particularly in unofficial spheres. By analyzing the Facebook posts from a Facebook group called 'The forum where basic education teachers express their feelings' (Translation from the Burmese), this study explores Myanmar teachers' attitudes towards education reform activities, the Myanmar Government's COVID-19 response in the education sector, and the February 1 military coup.

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