Washington — Voice of America English teaching programs will soon air on Burmese state radio under the terms of a breakthrough agreement reached June 12 in the capital, Naypyitaw.
VOA Director David Ensor, who signed the agreement with Thein Aung, director general of Myanmar State Radio and Television, said the decision by Burma’s long-isolated government is “a small step, but one that is symbolically important.”
Speaking after the signing ceremony, Ensor predicted that “many Burmese will enjoy learning English through VOA programs, and we hope this will lead to bigger things in the future.”
Ensor also held talks with Minister of Information Kyaw San, who expressed his support for greater access to the country, including issuing multiple-entry visas for VOA reporters.
“The opportunity to provide our audience with firsthand, eyewitness reporting has become more important now, given the pace of change in the country,” said VOA Burmese Service chief Than Lwin Htun.
“We commend the government of Burma for this important step in opening up its media landscape. We welcome the efforts to increase information access for the Burmese people,” said Michael Lynton, presiding governor of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees VOA.
Burma, which was renamed Myanmar by military rulers following the suppression of pro-democracy protests in 1988, has been liberalizing since late last year.
Voice of America’s Burmese Service, which provides news coverage on radio, television, Internet and mobile platforms, recently updated the format of its daily TV news magazine and has a wide variety of English-language teaching programs and podcasts available.
Under the agreement signed June 12, Burma’s radio network will carry VOA’s four-minute feature report three times weekly.