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Health & Education Overview

In the 2008 Constitution the Myanmar Government promised to strive earnestly to improve the health and education of all its citizens.

Among its provisions were a commitment to a free, compulsory primary education system, with improved enrolment rates, the right to health care of all Myanmar citizens, and the promotion of socio-economic development among less-developed national races.

These are promising aims, but if they are to be realised they must be matched with appropriate spending and policy. Currently, although education accounts for 11% of total government spending, it only accounts for 1.5% of GDP. This disparity points to Myanmar’s meagre public spending overall and to the need for increased taxation. Healthcare expenditure, meanwhile, is only 0.76% of GDP, lower than any other country in the ASEAN community. Despite many good goals, both health and education lack a single comprehensive policy, something essential to the efficient and well-directed allocation of any spending.

A better-educated, healthier population benefits social stability, employment rates, and gender, ethnic, and regional equality. Myanmar’s natural resource wealth can help sustain this social investment. A recent report by UNICEF gives several examples of what is currently possible:

  • Less than nine days of Myanmar’s natural gas revenues would ensure there is one teacher per primary school grade, per school. 60% of schools are currently understaffed, with an average of three teachers covering five grades
  • One extra dollar of tax collected on each kilogram of jade, could have built nearly 15,000 schools over the last 9 years
  • 0.87% of revenues from new natural gas projects would cover the cost of all vaccines needed annually across the country.

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