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Building a modern Myanmar

13 March 2013

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Anthony Swan is a Research Fellow in the Development Policy Centre and Lecturer in the International Development and Economics (IDEC) program at the Crawford School of Public Policy.

Myanmar is a country undergoing rapid change and a program to be run in Crawford School aims to give the country’s young professionals the skills they need to help their nation make the progression to a modern democracy.

The newly-developed Myanmar Graduate Development Program offers candidates access to education in the fields of policy and governance, international and development economics, environment management and development and environment and resource economics. It provides discipline-specific special support that targets the needs of Myanmar students, including English language support; academic and research skills advisors; and the availability of individual consultations for all written assignments and presentations.

Anthony Swan, Research Fellow at the Development Policy Centre and Lecturer in the International development and Economics (IDEC) program has been involved in getting the program up and running and said similar approaches have been adopted with other countries facing rapid economic public policy reform in the past, such as Vietnam and China.

“With Myanmar undertaking a number of reforms, they're rapidly trying to change their country and they're going to need assistance in building capacity of professionals. We see Crawford School as a key provider in helping the country's next generation of policy makers face the challenges ahead,” said Swan.

The program will consider a wide variety of applications from students in order to be able to reach a broad scope of young professionals.

The establishment of the ANU Myanmar Graduate Development Program was received positively by senior advisers to the Myanmar Government, top officials in the civil service and senior university leaders during a mission by Dr Swan and Professor Peter Drysdale to Naypyitaw and Yangon in Myanmar from 24 February to 3 March. Crawford School Student Recruitment and Alumni Director Ms Billie Headon will lead a follow up mission to Myanmar to facilitate applications to the program next week.

“Our program will take in applicants from government departments, especially those heavily involved in the reform process from central agencies. Key challenges for the Myanmar government include the independence of the Central Bank, taxation and expenditure reform, and implementation of new foreign investment rules and other efforts to liberalise engagement with other countries.  Their policy advisors need substantial assistance in developing their capacity on this front.

“ANU has also established a relationship with the University of Yangon. They produce students with strong technical skills but are interested in taking up a public policy dimension in their education. Young professionals and students can now take their education to the next level at the Crawford School.”

Through the program, Crawford School and IDEC will aim to encourage and enhance the advancements the country has made toward reform.

“The Myanmar government has a strong commitment to the longer term development of its people and its willingness to provide a pathway for undertaking high level training in areas that can really contribute to the ongoing reform process in the country.

“We hope the program will assist development in the country. A strong complementarity that will flow from the program will be opportunities of collaborating in research projects in Myanmar, as well as the exchange of academics and possibly policy analysts between the two,” said Swan. 

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