Ethnic Content Integration and Local Curriculum in Myanmar


  • Anui Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University
  • Thithimadee Arphattananon Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University



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.

Author Biographies

Anui, Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University

Anui (corresponding author) is a Ph.D. candidate at the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University, Thailand. His research focuses on the curriculum reform process in Myanmar and educational policy in a multilingual, multicultural society and its implications for building social cohesion and equity. He has been working on education and literacy projects since 2009, working with indigenous communities. He developed the Lainong Naga writing system and has produced various reading materials in Lainong. In 2020, Myanmar’s general election, he contested for the senate seat from Naga Self-administered Zone representing the Naga National Party. He is also a co-founder of Myanmar Indigenous Community Partners (MICP). 

Thithimadee Arphattananon, Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University

Dr. Thithimadee Arphattananon is an Associate Professor at the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University, Thailand. Her research focuses on how education and instructional practices in schools can go beyond the recognition of cultural differences and achieve the goal of equality for students from diverse social and cultural backgrounds. Until present, she has conducted research that examined multicultural education policies in Thailand and the practices in schools that enrolled students from diverse cultures. 


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