Ethnic Content Integration and Local Curriculum in Myanmar
Keywords:Ethnic Content Integration, Local Curriculum, Multicultural Education, Multiculturalism, Myanmar
Myanmar is home to over 54.8 million people, consisting of over 100 ethnolinguistic groups with distinct linguistic, cultural, and historical backgrounds. Since Myanmar gained independence from Great Britain, education has been used as the main political tool for Bamar national assimilation, neglecting this rich ethnic and cultural diversity. Myanmar opted for the assimilationist approach in which non-dominant ethnolinguistic nationalities are vanquished through the use of educational instruction, materials, and teachers’ education, all of which are ‘Bamarcentric’, centered around a single ethnolinguistic identity and language in Myanmar, Bamar. Other, non-dominant ethnolinguistic groups in Myanmar have long desired to incorporate their own languages, cultures, and histories into the educational system. In this vein, the National Education Law (NEL), which took effect in 2014, provides the integration of non-dominant ethnic languages and cultural identities into the mainstream curriculum. From this, a modified curriculum framework concerning the integration of indigenous ethnic content was produced in order to promote multicultural coexistence. The present study explores the implementation of the Local Curriculum and integration of non-dominant ethnic content into the curriculum in primary schools through the analysis of the curriculum development process and the integration of non-dominant ethnic content such as local literature, cultural perspectives, and indigenous worldviews. The study was conducted in Kachin, Kayah, Karen, and Mon states and the Yangon region, where a variety of ethnolinguistic groups reside. Using a qualitative approach, the study drew on findings from interviews with 63 participants, four classroom observations, and document analysis from four states and one region. The study revealed that the implementation of the Local Curriculum promotes multiculturalism and social cohesion.
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