University lecturers and students are volunteering their time during this summer holiday as part of the 2014 Literacy Campaign in Burma, which aims to provide free classes to 46,479 people, including children and elderly persons who never learned to read.
The campaign, which takes place from 1 April to 15 May, aims to provide literacy classes in more than 1,000 wards and villages in 29 townships across the country, and will benefit from the time given by some 4,200 students and university faculty members who will volunteer to teach reading and writing skills.
Khin Maung Htwe, assistant director of the Myanmar Education Research Bureau (MERB) overseeing the campaign, said: “Literacy is the key to educational development in this country; therefore our aim is to help everyone in the country become literate.”
Speaking at 6 April ceremony to launch the 2014 Literacy Campaign in the village of Sanpya in Mandalay Region, Burma’s President Thein Sein said, “As development of the nation totally depends on [our] literacy rate and education development, strenuous efforts are being made for undertaking reforms in [the] education sector so as to improve education standards,” according to a report in state-run The New Light of Myanmar.
According to government statistics, Burma’s literacy rate in 2000 was over 91 percent. MERB is projecting the figure will go up to 95 percent after 2015 following successive literacy campaigns.
UN data from 2007-11 puts the adult literacy rate in Burma at 92 percent, which compares favourably with several neighbouring countries; while Thailand and China boast adult literacy rates of 94 percent, Cambodia is 74 percent, India is 63 percent and Bangladesh just 57 percent, according to the UN.