Foreign Minister Bob Carr has announced a major new education package to train more teachers, lift student attendance and provide nutritious meals at primary schools in Myanmar.
In addition, Senator Carr announced the Australian Government will increase the number of tertiary scholarships from 20 next year to 50 by 2015.
Senator Carr said this new Australian assistance to be provided through AusAID will give hope and opportunity to children in the poorest country in Southeast Asia.
On a visit to AusAID education projects in the delta region south of Yangon, Senator Carr today said millions of children risk missing out on the basic right to an education in Myanmar.
"Australia's aid for education and scholarships will total more than $80 million over the next four years.
"Less than half of children who attend primary school in Myanmar complete the full five grades.
"That means this generation of children in Myanmar may become the first in the country's history with a lower level of education than their parents.
"Australia is determined to try and prevent this from happening.
"Education is the flagship of our aid program in Myanmar.
"Our focus is on the Millennium Development Goal for Education — ensuring children will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. Education is a basic human right that the people of Myanmar should enjoy.
"This program supports the basic rights of the poorest children in the country — the right to education, the right to learn in a safe environment, and the right to clean water and sanitation," Senator Carr said.
With our partners, Australia will work to give Myanmar's boys and girls the opportunity to have a full five years of high quality primary education by:
- helping more than one million children get better access to education by providing textbooks, teacher training and food aid to remote schools
- providing water and sanitation facilities at primary schools to stop children getting sick
- supporting at least 85,000 children to access early childhood education
- providing take-home meals for children who enter school and stay there for a whole year. Over four years we will provide meals for 1.3 million children, raising nutrition and doubling enrolment rates.
"Australia will also reach out to the most remote and underdeveloped regions of the country through Buddhist and community schools. In some of these schools less than half of teachers are properly trained," Senator Carr said.
Australia will support Myanmar to undertake a comprehensive education sector review to guide the Government of Myanmar and donors' future investments in education.
"We will work with the Government of Myanmar and civil society to support the momentum behind reform.
"We support sustainable change through public sector governance, and supporting civil society's role in demanding transparency and accountability of service delivery.
"The activities we fund will build capacity in teachers and local administrators to deliver quality education services.
"Australia will help drive sustainable development by steadily increasing scholarships to study at our world-class universities.
"Australian Development Scholarships will support champions for reform and development from both government and civil society organisations," Senator Carr said.
- Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7500
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555
- AusAID Media: 0417 680 590