Myanmar ministry accused of education law ‘propaganda’

Myanmar ministry accused of education law ‘propaganda’

The statement appears to attempt to cause dissension among campaigners for educational reform, teachers and students.

The Ministry of Education accepted the bill containing amendments to the law submitted by the National Network for Education Reform (NNER) delegates during recent four-party talks.

However, the statement surfaced at a time when the ministry seems to be unwilling to accept the bill due to be discussed in Parliament.

The statement says the bill would spoil the essence and meaning of the original law; conflict with existing laws and the Constitution; undermine the administration; and weaken democracy by adopting a communist educational system.

It says the bill targets high school and university students by allowing communist student unions to be formed, as in 1920; it claims the bill has no notion for educational development; and cancels all programmes which encourage outstanding students.

The bill would lead lead to poor education; disturbances in universities to the daily lives of staff while bringing about an “unrestrained educational system”, damaging national development and stability by causing difficulties such as a lack of teachers in remote areas.

Although the ministry is yet to comment on the statement, NNER member Dr Arkar Moe Thu said the ministry secretly distributed it to professors and demonstrators at universities.

“In all the universities, the rectors themselves distributed the statement. Staff told the students about the comments,” said Arkar Moe Thu.

The Facebook pages of the presidential spokesperson and union minister Ye Htut and presidential office director Hmue Zaw all posted comments reflecting the statement.

Propagandists shared the remarks on social media to offend the student representatives, NNER members and others who want to amend the education law, it is claimed.

State-owned newspapers have run articles, opinion pieces and letters opposing the amendments, claiming that religious complications will result.

Those opposing the amendments said the education law would give freedom to religious schools and hamper national security.

Article 68 (a) of Chapter 14 of the original law said: “Schools where religious teachings are solely carried out do not concern this law.” It had been claimed that the clause remained unchanged in the new bill but the NNER said it had not been cancelled and critics are trying to cause confusion using a religious pretext.

The statement labelled the students as “communists” and said the revised law would cause chaos and instability.

Nan Lin of the Dagon University Student Union and Democracy Education Movement Committee said: “These remarks aim to divide students and staff. They deviate totally from the acts of a civilised and courteous person. It is not the young who are impolite but the old. They called the students communists. They even labelled the first students’ boycott in the 1920s a communist act. It is obvious they didn’t learn the history of our country. They label everyone else a communist, just like the State Law and Order Restoration Council and the State Peace and Development Council.”

Zeya Lwin from Yangon Institute of Economics Student Union said: “We knew that the government would act like this and we asked to discuss the matter at the four-party meeting. But without discussing anything, they agreed all the points. Later on the remarks appeared. This is a very unethical, political action.”

The Ministry of Education has made no comment.

“If something is to be announced, it will be made officially. Who knows who is making propaganda on social media?” said Zaw Htay of the Department of Higher Education at the Ministry of Education.

The Mizzima newspaper has reported that the Ministry of Education sent the statement to Parliament, suggesting the union minister for education Dr Khin San Yi is responsible for the propaganda and other incorrect statements.

Khin San Yi was a tutor at a regional college from 1987 and rector at the Yangon Institute of Economics before in April 2012 being appointed as a deputy minister at the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development. She was appointed as education minister in 2014.

Critics say the minister is ill equipped for the position after her change of career from academia to politics.

Some compare her to her peers at the Yangon Institute of Economics who backed the former junta.

The government announced on February 24 that hearings on the bill to amend the education law would be held from March 5 to 15.

The objections of students on national education law become more severe when the law was prescribed. In November, 2014, protests of students appeared and demanded for amending within 60 days but it was in vain.

That’s why the students’ march from Mandalay to Yangon for the amending the national education law started in Jan 20, 2015.

When the students’ march gained people’s support, the government proposed to meet with students on January 28 and accepted the four-party meeting.

The first of 4-party meeting was held in Yangon on February 1 and another meeting planned to be held on February 3 was cancelled.

The four-party meetings were held on February 11 and 14 respectively and the government agreed students’ proposals. The government said they will submit the bill of NNER on amending the national education law to the parliament.

But the bill wasn’t discussed. According to schedule, there were delays. The government announced on February 24 that the hearings on the bill will be made from March 5 to 15.

Before the hearings are made, the fabricated news on national education law emerges one after another.

News Desk

Publication Date : 01-03-2015

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