Pingu's English School (UK) Set to Expand Further in Myanmar
22 May 2018 - A franchise of a UK-based preschool service provider located in northern Yangon has reached its first anniversary and is set to expand to downtown Yangon as well as Mandalay.With aspiring families in the country looking for quality education, demand is on the rise.
Before the government opened up the education sector to international investments last month, Surrey-headquartered Linguaphone Group, which has licensed partners in over 60 countries, has already established a presence in Myanmar more than a year ago.
In 2016, Myanmar-based EduWorld Co Ltd signed an English school franchise agreement with Linguaphone Group, who owned the Pingu’s English brand. Since then, the first school in the country was launched in February 2017, located in Bahan township, Yangon.
The Myanmar Times spoke to Bryan Yen, EduWorld CEO, about his school and upcoming expansion plans.
“English education is very important for Myanmar’s future. With Myanmar opening up its doors to the world, there is a growing demand from parents for high-quality English programmes for their children,” he explained, highlighting that there is market demand for an international curriculum and well-establish learning methodology.
The Bahan school provides kindergarten curriculum for kids between two and six years-old, English Language training (ELT) for those between one year and eight months and 10 years old as well as summer programmes.
As of early May, he estimated that the school has recruited around 120 students over the past 12 months. There are plans to set up another branch in downtown Yangon and one in Mandalay.
Efforts to develop this project were well-supported by the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) in Myanmar, which runs the “Education is GREAT” campaign. EduWorld subsequently hosted a joint business seminar with the British Chamber of Commerce Myanmar in Mandalay to reach out to the network of local companies and promote the Pingu brand in the city.
“We are working very closely with the DIT on their ‘Education is GREAT’ campaign. Moving forward, we looking at collaborating on campaigns like that,” Mr Yen remarked.
Rising demand from aspiring families
Yangon’s market, despite being more nascent and smaller than other more advanced economies in the region, is seeing a surge in preschool education demand.
“The market in Yangon is catching up. The parents are becoming more and more aware of what kind of school they send their children to and what kind of education system their children are in.
“Parents are becoming more knowledgeable. They would know what curriculums are used and they would ask us questions,” he said. His school is committed to quality education for mostly “mid-high to high” Myanmar families and also expatriate families. He sees Mandalay as spot with a vibrant education sector, supported by big and small international schools.
Mr Yen welcomed the latest move from the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) in April to permit foreigners to make full capital investments in private schools across the country. Foreigners can thus fully own and operate private schools teaching a curriculum prescribed by the education ministry or an international curriculum, including basic education schools, technical, vocational and training schools, higher education schools, subject-based schools and private schools. U Aung Naing Oo from the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) said “the idea is to open up education sector for investments, to attract more foreign investment in the education sector in order for Myanmar citizens and Myanmar young people to have more opportunities to learn locally”, while benefiting from an education which matches international standard.
Whatever help we can get, especially from a reputable country like the UK where education has been great for a very long time, is definitely a good and positive thing for Myanmar. Bryan Yen, EduWorld
EduWorld’s CEO echoed a similar vision.
“At this point in time, Myanmar education hasn’t been doing very well. Whatever help we can get, especially from a reputable country like the UK where education has been great for a very long time, is definitely a good and positive thing for Myanmar.”
He added that it’s important for the government to come up with a private education law in order to regulate and clear up “grey areas” in the industry.