Myanmar's shadow education

This month, UNESCO published a book entitled Shadow Education in Myanmar: Private Supplementary Tutoring and its Policy Implications.

Among the students sampled for this study, over 80% were receiving shadow education (=private tuition); and among the teachers sampled, nearly half were providers of private tuition.

The study exposes the significance of this phenomenon for the lives of students, the work of teachers, and the broader society. It has far-reaching implications for the educational reforms on which the Myanmar government has embarked.

Read the short article below and complete the sentences with NO MORE than TWO WORDS from the reading.


1) Identify keywords and any synonyms in the sentences

2) Find the keywords/synonyms in the reading and read carefully to find the answer.

  1. Private tuition or shadow education can worsen ____________________

  2. In Myanmar, private tuition has been part of education for a long time and is considered a _______________

  3. Students and families believe that they cannot depend on ________ to provide adequate learning.

  4. Some teachers were prioritising _____________ over their teaching in schools.

  5. It is advised that education managers and administrators should have a _________ with the different stakeholders about the shadow education system.

  6. Increased teacher salaries will result in a reduction in their need for _________________.

  7. From the situation in other countries, it seems unlikely that shadow education will ____________.

  8. The demand for private tuition will probably increase in the future, as Myanmar develops economically and families acquire more __________________.


Private supplementary tutoring –in Myanmar commonly called private tuition, and internationally commonly called shadow education –is increasingly recognised around the world as a significant phenomenon that can have positive sides in promoting learning and providing incomes for tutors but also has negative sides of maintaining and exacerbating social inequalities with a backwash on mainstream schooling. In Myanmar it is not a new phenomenon.

In Myanmar there is a widespread feeling that private tutoring is a normal activity and part of daily life, especially in Grade 11. Students and their families sought it in order to keep up with their peers and to secure learning that they did not feel could be adequately secured if relying on schools. However, the tutoring had a backwash on schooling. Teachers tended to assume that most students who needed tutoring would receive it, and some teachers therefore put less effort into their regular lessons. Further, teachers who were also tutors were tempted to put more effort into the fee-paying work than into their regular duties, and some respondents highlighted issues of favouritism and corruption, especially when teachers provided extra private lessons to their existing students.

Turning to the policy implications, an overarching recommendation is that the authorities should take the theme ‘out of the shadows’ for dialogue with teachers, students, parents and others. The dialogue will enable the different stakeholders to identify both positive and negative dimensions, finding ways to enhance the positive ones and handle the negative ones. These actions can take place at the school and community levels. At a higher level, the authorities should take a more realistic and reasonable approach in sanctions, concentrating on ways to reduce or eliminate the practice of teachers providing private tutoring to their existing students and perhaps being more lenient on other arrangements.

At the same time, it is desirable to raise teachers’ salaries so that they have less need to earn supplementary incomes, and to enhance the quality of mainstream schooling so that students feel less in need of external inputs. International experience suggests that shadow education will not go away, even with improved mainstream schooling, because families will always seek ways to secure competitive advantages for their children. Indeed as Myanmar’s economy grows, families will have greater disposable incomes and demand for private supplementary tutoring may expand rather than contract. Nevertheless, the sector should and can be steered and at least needs to be monitored. The authorities should review regulations for the commercial tutoring sector as well as for school teachers who provide tutoring, and may encourage forms of self-regulation.

When you are ready, enter your answers in the sheet below:


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