Higher Education Reforms in Myanmar: Re-orientating Tertiary Research for Democratic Transition

Myanmar Keynote Lecture

Professor Myo Kywe, National Education Policy Commission (NEPC) Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar

Myanmar’s Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are committed to develop a world-class HE system with a strong focus on research and innovation, to meet the country’s social and economic development needs. In our Myanmar context, long-standing neglect of critical inquiry has resulted in a withered research community, with academic institutions largely inward-looking and static. Hence, efforts are being undertaken to reform the Myanmar HE sector by upgrading university ranking, by developing autonomous and comprehensive universities, and by promoting internationalization.
The National Education Policy Commission (NEPC) has a broad and bold vision for education reform, and a crucial element of this is the re-orientation of academic institutions to be more engaged, active contributors of the research which sorely needed at this stage in Myanmar’s development. I will outline five key steps which I believe can facilitate this process: enabling autonomy of tertiary institutes; providing support to select institutions to develop centres of excellence in different fields; re-establishing the National Research Council, which would concurrently fund and disseminate research as well as provide much needed technical support and mentorship for emerging academics; embedding research training as a core capacity across undergraduate and postgraduate courses; and supporting the development of Community Engagement (CE) programmes which promote genuine collaboration with a wide range of communities beyond academia. The NEPC has a profound concern for the future employability of graduates of Myanmar Universities.
This reform is one of a number of steps in wider education reform which resets the broader objective of our education system: a new generation of citizens who embody an altruistic spirit, engage a critical mind, and deploy rich and varied set of skills to enable our nation to reach ‘consensus solutions for the common good’.


Professor Dr. Myo Kywe has been the Chairman of National Education Policy Commission (NEPC) in Myanmar since July 2018. The NEPC is an independent organization which sets national education objects formulates national education Policies. He is the former Rector of Yezin Agricultural University (YAU), Naypyitaw, Myanmar, which is the only Tertiary institution in Myanmar which offers both undergraduate and postgraduate programs in Agriculture. He worked at YAU since he graduated in 1979 until joining the NEPC, specializing in Agronomy. He obtained Bachelor degree in General Agriculture (B.Ag.) from YAU in 1979, and his Master’s degree (M.Agr.St.) specialized in Crop Science at the University of Queensland, Australia in 1989. He received his PhD degree in Agronomy – Crop Rotation at the University of Kassel, Germany in 2006. He has supervised twenty PhD students and more than thirty students of Master of Science/M.Phil./Postgraduate Diploma in Agriculture and Botany. Dr. Myo Kywe was also the Chairman of Agricultural University Alumni Association (AUAA) of Myanmar from 2014 to 2019 and serves as a consultant to many NGOs, companies and other organizations.


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