School, ethnicity and nation-building in post-colonial Myanmar


Education in emergencies, education and international development, education and nation-building, educational policy

How to Cite

Bigagli, F. (2019). School, ethnicity and nation-building in post-colonial Myanmar. Research in Educational Policy and Management, 1(1), 1-16.


Drawing on concepts of ethnicity and ethnic nationalism, this paper seeks to analyze the reasons and extent to which school education has been utilized to define the newborn nation. This will be done through an analysis of Myanmar’s political history and, subsequently, through an examination of specific educational policies and practices such as the introduction of a one-language policy,  standardized curriculum and textbooks  and teacher-centered pedagogies that have deliberately been used in the attempt to assimilate rather than integrate Myanmar’s ethnic diversity. The second part of the paper will address the nature and dynamics of decades of identity-based conflicts arguing that the “ethnicization”of the education system in favour of the Bamar majority has not only acted as a catalyst for the perpetuation of violence exacerbating divisions along civil-military lines but has reinforced ethno-linguistic identities through the use of education as a tool of resistance, with critical implications for social cohesion, tolerance for diversity and the overall future of the country.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (