YANGON : Thai is proving popular among Myanmar students at Yangon University of Foreign Languages.
The three-year Thai language programme was initiated in 2010 in anticipation of the establishment of the Asean Economic Community [AEC] in 2015.
Currently, about 200 Myanmar students are enrolled in the Thai language programme.
The first batch of graduates will complete their studies next year.
Pisanu Suvanajata, the Thai ambassador to Myanmar, said the Thai embassy in Yangon has collaborated with several Thai firms in Myanmar's biggest city to offer employment or internships to Thai language students at the university.
Mr Pisanu said he had received positive feedback about the programme from students, who felt that it would give them an edge in finding work with Thai firms in Myanmar that need locals who can speak the language.
An increase in the number of Thai tourists to Myanmar also means job opportunities in the tourism sector for Thai speakers, he said.
Mr Pisanu said that along with those seeking job opportunities, some students taking the Thai-language programme plan to later pursue higher degrees in Thailand.
Thai AirAsia is another major backer of the university's Thai language programme.
The airline recently gave 500,000 baht to the university to spend on teaching and learning materials for the Thai language programme.
The university's rector, Lwin Lwin Soe, said she would use the grant to further develop the Thai language programme as well as to buy learning tools to aid students.
"I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for all assistance," she said.
"I plan to set up a scholarship worth 100,000 baht for Thai language students here."
She said that a student exchange programme would be initiated in the near future to further develop students' language skills and to promote mutual understanding. The programme would also encourage greater mobility for students between the two countries.
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- Writer: Lamphai Intathep