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Education in Myanmar - statistics & facts

The Southeast Asian country of Myanmar was famed for its educational achievements until the 1960s. Prior to the military coups, nearly 90 percent of its population was literate. However, the educational system was adversely affected by the coup d’états in 1962 and 1988, with academic spaces being targeted by the military to curb student protests and uprisings. This resulted in a setback in education; correspondingly, a high number of illiterate adults was recently reported in Myanmar. Due to the prolonged higher education disruption by the military regime, this system had to be supplemented by privately operated tutoring programs.

Structure of the education sector

However, as of 2011, the education system has undergone several reforms with the end of the military coup. Although government spending on education is still not as high as spending on other sectors, it has increased from 2017. Today, Myanmar’s education system is run by the government and consists of five segments: early childhood care and development (ECCD), basic education, alternative education, technical and vocational education and training (TVET), and higher education. Basic education was further divided into three phases: the primary segment (years one to five), the lower secondary segment (years six to ten), and the higher secondary segment (years eleven to twelve). The GDP contribution of the social and administrative sector has increased significantly from 2011.

Education infrastructure

The infrastructure of Myanmar’s education sector has seen improvements throughout recent years, with the number of middle and high schools increasing. Although primary school numbers have recently fallen, the pupil to teacher ratio in primary education has lowered. This suggests there is potential for improvement in primary teaching quality if teachers have less students to focus on. The number of teachers in all school types has also increased dramatically, implying the increased emphasis of improving the education sector.

Problems within the sector

Although it can be inferred that Myanmar’s education has in fact improved due to the increase of graduates and people with bachelor’s degrees, the level of teaching quality is hugely varied throughout schools to the extent that literacy is non-existent in some students up to grade three. It is known that some of the high performing schools have been open to bribes from parents who want to secure places for their children. In order to tackle inequality throughout education, funding has been provided to Myanmar with a specific goal of concentrating 70 percent of investments on disadvantaged schools in less wealthy areas. If Myanmar is to improve its education sector, it can be deduced that a good quality of education must be evenly distributed throughout the nation.


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