In the beginning of last year, private schools were classified as a promoted sector under the MIC notification 13/2017 and therefore opened to foreign investors. In addition, the Union Parliament (the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw) released a new draft Private School Law (the “Draft PSL”) in December 2017. VDB Loi is working in collaboration with the Ministry of Education to finalize the Draft PSL in order to make this lucrative sector more attractive to foreign investors.
Other jurisdictions in Southeast Asia, particularly Singapore, already have a well-developed private education sector and comprehensive regulatory frameworks. Singapore’s private schools are permissible to have 100% foreign ownership and for-profit investments. Moreover, the Singapore Private Education Act 2009 (the “Education Act”) and its by-laws stipulate high standards in respect of registration, management and teachers of a private school.
The Education Act provides an explicit list with grounds for the refusal of the registration of a private school. For instance, such grounds can be the lack of minimum qualifications of the majority of the teachers or unsuitable premises to provide private education. Furthermore, the Education Act prescribes student protection rights in case a private school is closed down. In that event, the authorities are entitled to instruct the private school to refund the course money payed in advanced by each student and to make arrangements for the transfer of every student to another registered private school. For further consumer protection, the Education Act provides a set of regulations in respect of certain advertisements. A false description or any false or misleading information regarding the private school is prohibited and categorized as an offence, which can be punished with a fine or even imprisonment.
The private education sector in Singapore has improved noticeably after the implementation of the Education Act in 2009. Accordingly, it remains exciting to see how the private education sector in Myanmar will develop under a new private school law, which is more sophisticated and encourages foreign investors to invest in private schools in Myanmar.