An extension to the academic year by one month put forward by the Ministry of Education has been contested by teachers who say it is “overloading” them with work.
The original order from the ministry stated that schools must be open until March 31, but it has been modified, with schools now required to be open through March 25. Students from Grade 4 and Grade 8 taking their final exams in the first days of March. Grade 10 students must take their exams between March 11 and March 20. Other students will be tested between March 23 and 25.
March was once a month that teachers and students were off from school for summer holidays.
“The extension of the academic year will cause a lot of difficulties for teachers because teachers will have to be in charge of exam rooms. After that, they will have to check exam sheets. They will be overloaded with work,” director of the Hakha-based Chinbridge Institute Salai Van Cung Liang told Khonumthung News.
He added that different states have different challenges regarding weather, and that in Chin State it made more sense for schools to be open through the summer and the cool season and close during the height of the rainy season.
“The academic year is so long. Students should get a break. I think it would be better if they could extend the time for major subjects and reduce the time for minor subjects rather than extending the academic year,” Salai Van Cung Liang said.
Salai Khin Maung Thein, who graduated with a doctorate in education from the Philippines and now works in education research, said he supports the extension of the school year on the grounds that it is a time during which students could get exposure to different areas. .
“In other countries students travel during their summer holidays and their have to report their travel… If they travel more, they more experience. Here in Burma, most students do not travel during the summer holidays, and they don’t have many travel reports,” he said.
Chair of the Falam Student Association Salai Henry Bwi Bik acknowledged that the school year extension would cause difficulties, but said it would also bring benefits.
“When we look at other countries, their summer break is short and students have more academic time. So students can learn more,” he told Khonumthung News.
The education ministry has determined that the summer break will last for two months, from April to May. With the exception of students taking exams, all others must attend class through March during the 2019-2020 academic year.