The picture above is a picture I took  from the rare distinctive collection. The picture came out in 1943. The title was not included in the picture, but it was based in the Southeast Asian country Burma/Myanmar. . The picture represents British colonialism in Myanmar around the time of 1943. The British colonialized Burma by undercutting political and religous authroity, the British marginilizing the Burman community while granting ethnic minorities access to power. According to Harvard. Edu, the British introduced a radically different education system from the traditional Sangha, basing the new system on secular modernity. Britain’s involvement in Bruma was after three Anglo-Burma Wars, Burma was conquered and transformed into a  British colony. Burma became a official colony on January 1st, 1886. The British colonized Burma claiming that the last independent king of Burma, Thibaw Min, was a tyrant and that he was conspiring to give France more influence in the country. In the pre-colonial period,  education and religion were extremely inextricably linked as the Theraveda Buddhist monastic order, or the Sangha, served as the main educational institute for natives. According to, after Burma was colonized, the British attempted to reform the existing system, initially by working to incorporate more secular subjects into the monastic curriculum and later by setting up a system of secular schools. This is what is demonstarted in the photograph of both the children from Burma and Britain in the education system that was merged together. Some context to this picture is prior to the colonialization of British, few private schools existed except those established by Christian missionaries and local monastries in the self contained agricultural villages were the center of culture and served as schools for the Burmese boys. Due to religious restrictions set against women, girls were educated by home by parents who taught them basic literacy skills alone with other skills related to to efficacy in home duties and at the marketplace related to business duties. In the picture, the little girl seen with the baby portrays the happiness of the opportunity of getting to go to school, and having the ability to. These children in the villages learned basic literacy skills, the monastic education aimed to transmit the traditional culture, moral, and religious values of the community and society. The image tells us about the future because of the development that has happened over the years. For example, women can now get an education, and the monastic education doesn’t apply anymore in 2023, as it did in 1943. The affects of colonialism in Myanmar were tremendous mostly negative. The chain of events following the Third Ango-Burmese War dealt a bitter blow to Myanmar. The British deciding to eliminate the monarchy and the detach the government from religious affairs, depriving the Sangha( monkhood) of its traditional status and official patronage. The demise of the monkhood and the monarchy was tragic for Myanmar as it was very important for them in their society, and that being taken away from them during colonialism was the most devastating part for Myanmar. According to, the many changes Britain had towards the development of Burma was overall positive for the environment but not for the people. For instance, the  Burmese economy and transportation infrastructure developed rapidly from 1800 to 1900 the majority of Burmese people did not benefit from it because a railway had been built through the entire valley of Irrawady, and hundreds of steamboats piled the length of the river, but the railway and the boats belonged to the British companies. Britain began changing the industry and trade systems in Burma, which overall changed the society. The balance of trade was always in favor of Burma, but that meant little to Burmese people or society. When the photographer took the photo, he was probably wondering about creatively thinking about how the audience should depict the photograph and what they should be thinking about when looking at. What this image tells us about the future is that Myanmar will have to open to a new economy to international trade and foreign investment and managing natural resources development cautiously after the events of colonialism by Britain, and overall being cautious of other countries wanting to interact with them.

In conclusion, the picture depicts the interaction between Britain and Burma through children in the schooling system controlled by Britain populated places in Burma, and the positives and negatives children went through during this time, and in this picture being positive because of the facial expression of both children laughing with each other. 

Shared By: Prashansa Nagula
Source: Chai, Author Ada. “The Effects of the Colonial Period on Education in Burma.” Educ 300 Education Reform Past and Present, 2 May 2014, “The Colonial Era (1885-1948).” Religion and Public Life at Harvard Divinity School, “Myanmar.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 26 Apr. 2023,
Image Alt Text: Bumar, Myanmar

Edit Link: (emailed to author)
Request Now