With access to technology growing fast, CCEducare works to increase Myanmar citizen’s familiarity with the digital world.
By Zachary Frye
As citizens’ access to Internet throughout the country is growing immensely, CCEducare is bringing digital literacy to a generation of students who will come of age in an information-based global economy.
A host of problems continue to impact Myanmar’s education system, including poorly-resourced schools, ongoing humanitarian crises and armed conflict, especially in places like Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states. Despite these issues, CCEducare is playing its part as an organization with innovative solutions to bolster digital education.
“We envision Myanmar becoming a country where all the students can have access to equal education opportunities. [Our] mission is to reduce the limitation of quality education access using information technology,” Chit Thu told ASEAN Today.
Most high schools in Myanmar are set to open on July 21, with primary and middle schools opening a few weeks later. Although CCEducare isn’t part of the country’s public school system, its unique approach shows the promise of private-public partnerships for engaging Myanmar’s youth and furthering the country’s educational goals.
Myanmar’s rapid Internet growth underscores the need for strong digital literacy
According to the World Bank, in 2010 under 1% of Myanmar’s population was using the Internet. By May 2020, Internet penetration in Myanmar reached at least 40% of the population, or some 22 million people—an impressive number given that about 70% of the population are rural farmers, sometimes with limited access to electricity.
Source: World Bank
Estimates show that the vast majority of Myanmar’s internet users are on Facebook, a topic of heated discussion in recent years due to the influx of fake news and the weaponization of social media platforms in the country, especially in light of the Rohingya humanitarian crisis.
With that said, the need for digital literacy in Myanmar goes beyond curbing the negative impacts wrought by social media. CCEducare sees itself as a means to develop students’ ability to access a decent, holistic education.
“Nowadays, access to technology is increasing rapidly. However, technology is still not widely used for educational purposes. I think that it is the most suitable solution for how we can help to spread education to areas where teachers have less reach or [students] have no access to quality education,” Chit Thu said.
She also understands that for Myanmar’s youth to graduate school with the skills needed to compete in a global economy, a well-rounded digital education will be crucial.
“Digital literacy has become one of the key expertise in accessing information and learning competent skills not just in Myanmar, but worldwide,” she added.
Ethnic areas cannot be ignored
In Myanmar, the majority Bamar ethnic group who live along the central Irrawaddy river basin hold much of the political and economic power. Large swaths of land in the far north, west and eastern portions of the county, however, are home to various ethnic groups, often with their own language and identity.
For generations, disagreements with the Burmese government have led to intermittent conflict. From an educational standpoint, one of the legacies of this division has been a system of ethnic-based curricula in these areas.
Some schools in Kachin, Karen and Mon States, for instance, utilize a curricula that focus in part on local customs and languages, as opposed to following the strict dictates of the capital’s educational standards.
Some local groups say such alterations are necessary because of the central government’s tendency to ignore minority languages, history and ideas in its official curriculum, but ethnic systems arguably have drawbacks for students due to a lack of state funding, persistent language barriers and uncertain official recognition of non-government accreditation.
Unconcerned with politics, CCEducare uses its platform to engage people from all backgrounds, including those in ethnic areas.
“One of our more recent social projects, WomenLead, is dedicated to helping the underprivileged women from seven states and divisions of Myanmar such as Kachin, Chin and Shan states by helping them build their businesses and sustainably increase income,” added Chit Thu.
Innovative private organizations have a role to play in the education of Myanmar’s youth
According to Chit Thu, most of CCEducare’s day-to day work revolves around collaborating with nonprofits, training schools and individual trainers to rework textbook curriculum into digital courses and education videos.
To bring content alive and keep students engaged, they use some of the newest technology available for digital educators, on both computers and mobile devices.
“We have been introducing innovative products and services in the past three years and also offer digital literacy workshops across Myanmar to educate people who want to grow to their full potential. We have helped educational organizations to implement digital learning,” she continued.
As one of the earliest organisations to focus on digital education in Myanmar, CCEducare has garnered recognition over the past few years for its work, including from the US Mission to ASEAN.
“We [already] collaborated and built a strong relationship with 51 organisations in total across the Myanmar and the ASEAN region and we are looking forward to growing more,” says Chit Thu.
Besides making the case that digital education should be central to the future education of Myanmar’s youth, CCEducare’s early success also helps buttress arguments that socially-engaged companies have a role to play in improving the capabilities of schools across the region.
“I think what makes us unique is that we are not just providing a solution, but we also have a commitment and dedication to the improvement of the community,” she added.