UNESCO in Myanmar

tbcUNESCO is introducing ICT for Education in Myanmar, making mobile broadband technology available in 31 project schools including Basic Education High School (Htone Gyi) [the picture] and training educators for ICT-pedagogy integration. Photo: UNESCO

UNESCO’s mission is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. UNESCO is providing specialized policy advice and technical assistance to the Government of Myanmar in collaboration with other development partners to support the ongoing reform agenda across all UNESCO’s mandated sectors.  Myanmar became a member of UNESCO on 27th June 1949. Since then, UNESCO has been implementing programmes in Myanmar through our regional office in Bangkok and the Myanmar National Commission for UNESCO. In May 2009, UNESCO established its office in Yangon.  UNESCO Yangon office’s current budget is of USD 14 million (2013 – 2016).

UNESCO is committed to a holistic and humanistic vision of quality education in Myanmar, the realization of everyone’s right to education, and the belief that education plays a fundamental role in human, social and economic development. UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to cover all aspects of education, and will take a lead to support Myanmar for the realization of the SDG-4 -Education 2030 Framework for Action. UNESCO focuses on increasing equity and access, improving quality, and ensuring that education develops knowledge and skills in areas such as sustainable development, peace education, global citizenship, human rights and gender equality. UNESCO works with the Ministry of Education Myanmar and a wide range of partners to make education systems more effective through policy change. UNESCO is taking a lead in implementing projects to build capacities of education officials to undertake education sector policy reform, planning and management, development of the Education Management Information System (EMIS), teacher education reform, skills development for youth through Technical and Vocational Education (TVET), Higher Education, Non-formal Education, Peace Education, and education for Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development.

As the only UN agency specifically mandated with the responsibility for promoting creativity and safeguarding the world’s diverse cultural heritage, UNESCO is assisting the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture to preserve and protect Myanmar’s rich and diverse culture. With UNESCO’s support, Pyu Ancient Cities became the first monument complex in the country to be enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while 14 other sites are on the tentative list, including seven natural heritage sites which have been recently added through technical assistance from UNESCO. To ensure that culture takes it rightful place in development strategies and processes in Myanmar, UNESCO has adopted a three-pronged approach: it spearheads advocacy for culture and development, while engaging with the national authorities to set clear policies and legal frameworks and working on the ground with the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture and local stakeholders to safeguard heritage, strengthening intangible heritage to encourage cultural pluralism. UNESCO is also providing substantial technical assistance to the Government of Myanmar for inscribing Bagan and Hkakaborazi Landscape on the World Heritage List.   

Communication and Information
As the United Nations agency with a specific mandate to promote “the free flow of ideas by word and image”, UNESCO works in Myanmar to foster free, independent and pluralistic media in print, broadcast and online. Media development in this mode enhances freedom of expression, and it contributes to peace, sustainability, poverty eradication and human rights. UNESCO’s work in Myanmar directly supports freedom of expression as an inalienable human right, and is taking a lead role in strengthening and coordinating media development in Myanmar. In partnership with the Ministry of Information and media stakeholders, UNESCO is building capacity of the media sector to raise the professional standards of journalism and assisting the Government and civil society in building the framework for a free media environment. UNESCO is implementing initiatives in the media sector to promote democracy, peace-building and community empowerment.

Natural Science
UNESCO works to advance and promote science in the interests of peace, sustainable development and human security and well-being. In Myanmar, UNESCO has been providing technical assistance for environmental conservation and biodiversity preservation at Inlay Lake, which has been designated as the first Biosphere Reserve of Myanmar, under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme, in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation.

Partners: Ministry of Education, Myanmar National Commission for UNESCO, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry of Health and Sports, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, INGOs and NGOs.

Donors: Australia, EU, Italy, Switzerland, Japan, Norway, Finland, Denmark, UN Peace Building Fund, UNOPS, UNDP, LIFT, National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan (NFUAJ), Plan International, PepsiCo and Ericsson.  

Do you know that:

  • In 2014, Pyu Ancient Cities became the first site from Myanmar to be included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
  • UNESCO is currently assisting the Ministry of Education with a Comprehensive Education Sector Review – the first-of its kind since UNESCO supported a review in 1992. 
  • UNESCO organized the first World Press Freedom Day in Myanmar’s history in May 2012. The date has been commemorated every year since, and more to come to promote freedom of expression.
  • UNESCO has provided technical assistance to Myanmar to inscribe Inlay Lake as Myanmar’s first ever UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
  • In 2013, the Kuthodaw Inscription Shrines were registered as the first inscription from Myanmar in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register (MOWR). In 2015, Myazedi Quadrilingual Stone Inscription from Myanmar was also inscribed in the MOWR.
  • UNESCO established the Centre of Excellence for Business Skills Development in Myanmar, as an innovative public-private partnership initiative in collaboration with Ministry of Education / Yangon University of Economics and Private sector – PepsiCo to strengthen business skills for youth in Myanmar.