Transforming University Education in Myanmar through Gender and Development Studies

Sanda Thant, Socio-Economic and Gender Resource Institute; Kyoko Kusakabe, Asian Institute of Technology; Philippe Doneys, Stockholm Environment Institute; Joyee Chatterjee, Gender and Development Studies, Asian Institute of Technology; Cho Cho Thein, Yangon University of Economics


Community, Education, and Democracy


Myanmar universities have been isolated from the rest of the world for a long period of time. With attempts at democratization taking place in Myanmar, universities have been opening up to outside partners and expanding their program offerings to meet the emerging needs up until the coup in 2021. There was also increased demand for higher education as well as professional graduate-level education for development workers and experts meeting the needs of the country’s socio-economic development. The collaborative project between the Yangon University of Economics and Asian Institute of Technology, presented in this paper, went from a situation under a heavily controlled university education to a more grounded and open discussion-based education, including the introduction of gender and development courses and qualitative research methodologies. With the recent coup and associated protest movements, the universities are fighting for what they have gained during the short period of transformation to academic openness. The presentation will discuss the power of gender and development education in transforming university education and its limitation in a context of a fluid political situation. The buy-in to gender and development education within the leadership of the university was crucial as well as the university’s linkages with civil society groups. However, the public nature of the university as an institution is vulnerable to the changes in rector appointments as well as to the wider political climate.

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CCSEAS Conference 2021 |