The government of Myanmar recognizes that skills development will be critical in promoting inclusive growth and poverty reduction, assisting Myanmar to meet rapidly evolving labor market needs, rebalancing and equipping the labor force and the economy to modernize and climb the technological ladder into higher value-added sectors, and enhancing equity of opportunity to new opportunities. Under the Comprehensive Education Sector Review (CESR) launched by the government in late 2012, with harmonized support from development partner organizations (DPOs) the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been a lead DPO supporting analysis and policy dialogue on technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and other post-primary education subsectors in Myanmar. Building directly on dialogue under the CESR, the government has requested (including during the 2013 Country Programming Mission) ADB to provide technical assistance (TA) to pilot test new skills development models and provide related capacity development and policy and planning support.
The TA will involve cooperation with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and Ministry of Industry (MOI), in dialogue with other agencies. A key focal thrust will be supporting MOST and MOI to develop and pilot test competency-based modular short-courses (CBMSCs) in selected skill areas. New to Myanmar, CBMSCs would provide a mechanism to quickly expand the supply of foundational skills urgent needed to modernize Myanmar's urban and rural economies while also advancing equity and inclusive growth, by extending skills development opportunities to disadvantaged youth and workers who are unable to access higher education and existing forms of TVET. Complementing policy-level support under the Comprehensive Education Sector Review (CESR), the proposed TA will assist the government in operationalizing this thrust by developing and pilot testing CBMSCs in several urgently demanded skill areas and building related institutional capacities. Pending further review, it is foreseen that 7 pilot CBMSCs will focus on skills in (i) road construction and concrete technologies; (ii) cement shuttering; (iii) bar-bending (for concrete reinforcement); (iv) brick-laying; (v) MIG-MAG welding; (vi) arc welding; and (vii) maintenance and repair of farm equipment, motorcycles, and other common rural-use machinery.
In turn, support under the TA is expected to feedback into the CESR, by providing proven models that can be integrated into the 2016-2020 sub-plan of the Costed Education Sector Plan (CESP) to be developed during Phase 3 of the CESR--and replicated to a broader array of skill areas and institutions under MOST, MOI, and other agencies.
The TA will be administered by ADB and financed by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, generously funded by the Government of Japan.
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
Myanmar's dramatic socioeconomic transformations present both opportunities and challenges. Recognizing that an educated population and skilled workforce will be a prerequisite for successful navigation of these transformations and for sustained economic growth and poverty reduction, Myanmar's government has recently stepped up efforts to bolster the education sector, including the TVET subsector. Myanmar's ongoing CESR is playing a critical role in pinpointing critical gaps and identifying quick wins that can be pilot tested for potential scale-up under the forthcoming Costed Education Sector Plan (CESP): to be developed in the final phase of the CESR in 2014, the CESP will provide a unified framework for evidence-based, prioritized, and sequenced sector investments by the government and DPOs.
Among key gaps requiring urgent solutions, despite its large current and potential workforce of youth and young adults, Myanmar faces significant skill shortages and misalignment. In particular, ADB-supported analysis under the CESR's Rapid Assessment (Phase 1) demonstrates the existence of an inverted skill pyramid: amidst overall gaps in skilled labor, there is a particularly urgent need to generate young workers possessing basic skills to strengthen the foundations of the skill pyramid. For example, household survey data suggests that only roughly 1.7% of 16-19 year-olds are enrolled in various forms of skill training, with access to training concentrated in urban areas and fields like computers and languages: e.g., a total of only roughly 0.3% and 0.1% of rural males and females reported enrolment in any form of industrial, mechanical, or primary sector-related training, with an estimate of 0.0% among poor respondents. Women (especially in rural or peri-urban areas) are particularly underrepresented in the latter types of training. The absence of workers with foundational skills directly undermines the ability of more highly-skilled workers to efficiently function and obstructs balanced modernization in both the urban and rural sectors.
CESR analysis also demonstrates that a key issue underlying this dearth in basic skills training has been the lack of capacities and systems for providing applied short-courses and other forms of training accessible to disadvantaged youth and workers. On one hand, public sector TVET provision in Myanmar in recent years has largely focused on advanced, multi-year degree or diploma programs with admission based on the same matriculation exam used for entrance into universities. Meanwhile, private training is expanding but remains limited and heavily targeted at more affluent urban niche markets (e.g., computer and language training). Looking beyond access alone, the TVET subsector also faces issues related to quality and management, which will need to be addressed to allow TVET to effectively support Myanmar's accelerating socioeconomic transformation. These include the need for the TVET subsector to shift from a largely supply-side and academic orientation towards more fully demand-driven and competency-based programs, while addressing gaps in (i) the quality and relevance of curricula and materials, methodology, and overall program design in the face of shifting demands; (ii) links to labor market needs, especially in expanding sectors and skill areas; (iii) instructional and managerial staff capacity and professional support systems, in addition to physical facilities; and (iv) related institutional capacities. At the same time, the TVET subsector has received very limited international support, as DPO support to the education sector remains concentrated in primary, preprimary, and nonformal education.
To help address these challenges, CESR Phase 1 recommended (i) continued analysis and policy support under CESR Phase 2 (in-depth analysis) in areas such as development of an updated policy framework for TVET; and (ii) more focused by quick win interventions. The latter include formulation and pilot testing of competency-based modular short-courses (CBMSCs). The TA will directly assist the government in the latter. It is also consistent with ADB's Interim Country Partnership Strategy for Myanmar. The ICPS' first pillar covers human resources and institutional capacities, and identifies the post-primary education subsectors (including TVET) as a core focus for ADB support.