In 2011, the coming to power of a new government marked the beginning of a democratic process in Myanmar. Among the reforms undertaken was a law on freedom of the press, promoting the emergence of new media in the national arena.
In parallel with the liberalisation of the sector, and at the request of the Burmese authorities, an independent school of journalism has been launched by a European consortium in partnership with the Burmese media group "Forever".
Each partner brings its experience and expertise to the project: FoJo in the field of university education, DWA in the establishment of the internal organisation and in technical areas such as e-learning, IMS in governance, CFI and the Embassy offer their experience in the field, the transfer of skills, such as the training of trainers, and ensure students come from a wide variety of backgrounds through the provision of scholarships. This major project is open to all media and is based upon consultation and the participation of all local stakeholders (Ministry of Information, journalists' associations, press groups and organisations, universities, NGOs).
Myanmar Journalism Institute offers professional quality education that meets international standards – compliance with ethical rules, neutrality, pluralism and methodology of investigation – focusing on two areas: training for working journalists and entry-level training for students. It provides training for media professionals who play a part in strengthening democratic processes and good governance.
The legal structure of MJI is established in accordance with national laws, the by-laws and rules of procedure are drawn up, the budget is approved and the management board is elected.
A small management team is formed and trained, while the recruitment procedures for the hiring of administrative and operational staff are defined. The team thus formed, together with a technical expert, creates the management, support and communication tools.
A team of eight Burmese trainers is established and these trainers themselves attend a cycle of six training sessions.
Lastly, the school's educational team, the international partners and the managers of the Burmese media align the courses offered by the institute with the needs of local media.
The first three months of 2014 are dedicated to the selection of 60 students.
A short educational course (12 academic months) is established to provide comprehensive training. 60 candidates are recruited and trained over two years, 15 per year in Rangoon and 15 per year in Mandalay. In the 2014-2015 school year, 30 students begin the training course for working journalists.
Practice formed the central theme of the summer training session held at the Myanmar Journalism Institute (MJI) in Pakokku, central Myanmar, from 11 to 20 June 2015.
On 4 July 2015, the 28 students of the first graduating year at MJI, Myanmar's recently founded school of journalism, received their degrees from school director U Thiha Saw, in the presence of a range of media personalities.
From 31 May to 12 June 2016, 19 students doing their initial training at the MJI gained further in-depth experience out in the field, on ten or so reporting assignments relating to social, economic and political change in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar.
Fifteen modules, with 12 journalists per module, are organised for the professional training, for an intensive cycle taught in Burmese. Journalists are selected through a call for applications.
An Election Reporting course is offered by MJI in addition to the professional training curriculum. These classes prepare journalists to cover the general elections which are so essential for Burmese democracy (late 2015). This training is provided across the region to reach journalists outside of the major urban centres.
This summer, the 19 students of the initial training course at the Myanmar Journalism Institute (MJI) obtained their diplomas. Thirteen of them have already been hired by local editorial offices.
For the first year of this short course of professional training, 28 grants are awarded to students on the basis of proximity, accommodation and travel requirements. The following year more emphasis is placed on students from disadvantaged backgrounds, in particular in terms of ethnicity. These grants are managed by the Embassy of France.