Buddhist monasteries have traditionally fulfilled the function of schools in Myanmar, particularly in rural areas. After the Shin-pyu ceremony, young boys spend several weeks in a monastery, learning to recite the Sutras (Buddhist texts). They must follow a strict code of discipline. During this period, they learn how to address their superiors and perform chores in the monastery.

 Myanmar also has a system of formal, secular education. Education is free and compulsory between the ages 5 and 9. Secondary and university students pay small tuition fees. Both teachers and students wear green and white uniforms. Children attend primary school for four years, and junior high school for another four years. Senior high school is only two years. Students must pass exams before moving up to the next grade and the competition is very stiff. Some children, especially those in the rural areas, drop out after four years of education because their families need them to work in the fields.

As well as learning the Burmese and English languages, students learn history, geography, mathematics, science and social studies. The government has been trying to improve the educational system by encouraging attendance and building more schools. 

Students who complete high school may attend vocational schools, teacher training schools or university. Vocational schools teach accounting, computer skills, engineering, and machine repair and maintenance. University education has been undergoing reorganization to improve standards. The government has increased spending on education to respond to the demand for better university courses. The two best-known universities are in Yangon and Mandalay.

  Did you know?
In 1970, Myanmar won the UNESCO award for its effective literacy campaign. Since then, however, the literacy rate has fallen because of political and economic problems.
Education in the professions, such as medicine, engineering and architecture, is much in demand, because it leads to well-paying jobs. Many women study obstetrics, gynecology or pediatrics because in Myanmar it is not acceptable for male doctors to touch women patients.
  Did you know?
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the most extraordinary feat of memory occurred in Myanmar in 1954. Bhandanta Vicitsara recited 16,000 pages of Buddhist canonical texts from memory.