Education sector at the heart of EU cooperation with Myanmar


The European Union is planning to spend €241 million in Myanmar’s education sector until 2020

SINCE 2013, the EU Delegation in Yangon is the official diplomatic representation of the European Union in Myanmar. It employs more than 40 local and international staff who foster political relations with Myanmar, coordinate the EU’s humanitarian aid, promote economic and trade relations between the EU and Myanmar and manage the development cooperation programmes. The EU allocated more than €740 million (around K1.15 trillion) for development cooperation with Myanmar for the period 2014-2020.

Myanmar’s education sector has suffered for decades from lack of resources, out-dated curricula, the country’s international isolation and ongoing conflicts. The EU has made it a priority to help remedy some of these challenges. Since 2012, the EU provided technical and financial support to the Ministry of Education in developing a reform roadmap. After the National League for Democracy-led government took office in 2016, the reform of the education sector has gained new momentum and in February 2017, the National Education Strategic Plan was presented to the public.

Until 2020, the EU is planning to spend up to €241 million (more than K374 billion) on education in Myanmar. These funds are, on the one hand, aimed at supporting the Ministry of Education in implementing its reform agenda, modernise curricula, improve access to quality education nationwide and make vocational education and training more responsive to the needs of the labour market. On the other hand, the EU seeks to support practical solutions for the most vulnerable children and youth in remote and conflict-affected areas of the country. There, smaller-scale projects build safe and protective learning environments where they are most needed: this includes formal schools, but also IDP camps and host villages of displaced families.

 EU Ambassador Roland Kobia with primary school students in Chin State. Photo: EUEU Ambassador Roland Kobia with primary school students in Chin State. Photo: EU

Fully funded Erasmus scholarships for inter-disciplinary Master and PhD programmes

Erasmus is one of the European Union’s biggest success stories. Over the last 30 years, the Erasmus programme has allowed more than 9 million students from within the EU and from around the world to study abroad. Thousands of leading managers, researchers, politicians, journalists, artists and scientists are former Erasmus students and most of them describe their Erasmus time as a life-changing experience.

“It was my first real taste of independence,” says Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, one of the top posts in the European Union.

For Tin Yadanar Tun, Erasmus was more than just an entry ticket to her career. “The friends I made during my Erasmus studies helped me gain confidence and taught me to be my sociable self.” She challenged what is usually perceived a male domain and in 2016 finished a master in ship design in Belgium, France and Germany. Today she works as a junior naval architect in a ship design firm in Yangon and is getting ready to start her PhD studies in Portugal later this year.

Students and academic staff from Myanmar can apply for fully-funded scholarships to complete master and doctoral programmes, or participate in mobility programmes between partner universities under “Erasmus Mundus”. So far, more than 150 Myanmar students and 32 academic staff have used the opportunity to study and work at one of the world leading universities in Europe – a relatively low number compared to neighbouring countries in the region. The EU Delegation to Myanmar, therefore, presented the programme this year for the first time at the International Education Fair in Yangon and regularly tours the country with an info road show for those students who live and study outside Yangon.

 Erasmus Alumna Tin Yadanar Tun with colleagues at the defense of her Master thesis in Rostock, Germany. Tin Yadanar Tun/ The Myanmar TimesErasmus Alumna Tin Yadanar Tun with colleagues at the defense of her Master thesis in Rostock, Germany. Tin Yadanar Tun/ The Myanmar Times

Erasmus Mundus takes students across Europe

The Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree Programme, or EMJMD, is a prestigious, integrated, international programme that offers more than 100 study courses in the fields of science and technology, social sciences, law, international development, communication and many more. EMJMDs are certificates of excellence that are recognized worldwide and known to open doors and boost careers.

“During the Erasmus master programme, I learnt about the different aspects of modern public health management and got excellent support from my academic supervisors. I even had the chance to get on-the-job experience through an internship in a research centre, which was part of the degree,” says Dr Moe Myint Oo about his Erasmus experience in Denmark and the UK. He now works with the Malaria Consortium Myanmar to help eliminate the deadly disease in his home country.

EMJMDs last up to 24 months and are mostly taught in English. However, Erasmus students are encouraged to join a free course to also learn the languages of their host countries. EMJMDs are organised by at least two universities in different European countries – which offers students the unique opportunity to get to know Europe’s rich cultural diversity by studying in different places as part of only one joint study programme.

EMJMDs are highly competitive programmes where the best student candidates are awarded scholarships based exclusively on their merits. There are no quotas, neither for a specific region or country nor based on gender. Candidates are directly selected by the international consortia of the higher education institutions in Europe. Minimum requirements vary, but all universities require students to have a bachelor’s degree, fluency in English and an outstanding motivation.

Contrary to many other student mobility programmes, students accepted into the EMJMD programme do not have to worry about money. The EU-funded scholarships cover tuition fees, travel costs to Europe and back home, health insurance and a reasonable amount to defray the living costs which are higher in Europe than in Myanmar.

“Erasmus has changed my life. Now I am a big step closer to realising my dream of becoming a leading researcher!”, says 2017 Erasmus alumnus Ye Pyae Sone Oo who obtained a Master’s degree in Naval Architecture in Belgium and France.

Applications for EMJMD programmes starting in autumn 2018 will open from September/October 2017.

 Erasmus Alumni Ye Pyae Sone Oo and Allen Latt at the Study in Europe! booth at the 2017 International Education Fair, Yangon. Photo: EUErasmus Alumni Ye Pyae Sone Oo and Allen Latt at the Study in Europe! booth at the 2017 International Education Fair, Yangon. Photo: EU

European Union promotes student mobility between ASEAN and the EU

While Erasmus still stands at its beginning in Myanmar, another EU student mobility programme has been highly popular among Myanmar students over the past few years. SHARE, the EU support to higher education in the ASEAN region, was launched in May 2015 to strengthen regional cooperation and enhance the quality, competitiveness and internationalisation of higher education in ASEAN. Since its launch, hundreds of undergraduate students from across the ASEAN region used a SHARE student mobility scholarship to spend one semester at a university in either another ASEAN country or in Europe. Scholarships cover tuition fees, living allowance, travel costs, health insurance, study materials and visa costs. Fifteen Myanmar students – 13 of which are female (!) – are about to embark on their adventure to study at universities in Austria, the Netherlands, Ireland and Sweden starting from August 2017.

Applications for the January-June 2018 term open on September 1.


For updates on Erasmus+:
Erasmus Alumni from Myanmar tell their stories at:
Learn more about EMJMD at:


A list of participating universities:
Find all necessary information at:

Valerie Zirl
Public Diplomacy Adviser
– Political, Press and Information Section Delegation
of the European Union to Myanmar

Source: Myanmar Times