Burma Students Reject Govt Warning to Stop Protests

Public support has been growing for hundreds of students who on Jan. 20 began a peaceful march from Mandalay to Rangoon. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

Public support has been growing for hundreds of students who on Jan. 20 began a peaceful march from Mandalay to Rangoon. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — University students from across Burma on Friday rejected a government warning that they stop protesting against a new education law that they say prohibits them from engaging in political activities and curbs academic freedom.

A student activist contacted by phone said they continued their march Friday and that colleagues from different universities will join forces in Rangoon.

“Many of our colleagues from Ayeywarwaddy [Irrawaddy] delta and southern Myanmar [Burma] are also proceeding with their protest march and we will all meet in Yangon [Rangoon],” said Ye Yint Kyaw, a student member of the protest group.

On Thursday, the government accused the students of being manipulated by groups seeking to destabilize the country.

A special announcement by the Government Information Committee broadcast on state television said some political organizations were behind recent student protests, but did not identify them. It called on the public to cooperate, reminding them of past instability due to riots.

Public support has been growing for hundreds of students who on Jan. 20 began a peaceful march of several hundred miles from the central city of Mandalay to Rangoon seeking to change an education law passed last year. They say the law fails to give autonomy to universities and does not allow the formation of student unions.

Talks started by the government with the students this week were suspended over a disagreement about how many students could attend.

The march has attracted the support of growing numbers of students and Buddhist monks. It also has many supporters from the opposition National League for Democracy party of Aung San Suu Kyi, which is expected to make a strong challenge to the military-backed government of President Thein Sein in elections set for later this year.

The threat of an expanded protest is sensitive in Burma, in part because students were at the forefront of pro-democracy protests in 1988 that were brutally crushed by the military.

But Ye Yint Kyaw said the protest march had been peaceful and that the students had also received support from local residents along the way.

5 Responses to Burma Students Reject Govt Warning to Stop Protests

  1. KIds look wonderful. Drill-exercise-equipent-canvas shoes-pants-readiness- avoid hesitation- all or none. Do not forget to duck and run. Listen to instinct or stay at home.

  2. Stop all this stupid acts. This will cause more negatives than the progressive move towards the development of this country. Everyone knows it someone is behind the scence and watching this unbstable situation. As the result, everything is going to be stalled and you will never achieve the goal you want for so many years. Think about thousands of lives had been lost and nothing in sight is bright enough. In the end the poor will become poorer and the rich will become richer from both sides of the politics. Moreover, business houses in and out of the country will grow more than what they used to be in five years time. They will be laughing at us as the most stupid people on earth who aren’t able to make judgement in own affair with logical way of thinking. Reminder to so called ethinic group leaders, it is time for you all to consider who you really are, what you truly represent, do you really know what your are fighting for and more importanly, who are they backing you up, what do they want from you, and tell the truth to your younger generations all about it. Think about how to prevent this country and it assets from the influx of illegal or so called legal tradings and invasions.

  3. So the Government will shoot and kill, and put those innocent students in jail again if they do not stop protest against Government education policy.

  4. Thousands of students protested the Burmese government to encourage reform through an education law passed years ago. The Burmese educational system is still recovering from decades of neglect under the military rule that has curbed academic independence and freedom. Student protesters (and non-students) want to see the National Education Bill voted to become law. And they want to form a student union and create a commission to oversee the country’s education system. Also, in the state of Mon, students will be holding a protest on February 9th in Moulmein. They are demanding student rights, one of which is for ethnic native language instruction to be recognized under the Burmese national education law.
    Why doesn’t the government want to include improving these important conditions in education in it’s public policy?
    It is because the Burmese educational system crippled a generation of students. For example, every student has to pass all subjects on the first try to continue in school, otherwise they have to repeat all of the subjects for that one year. Most students do not pass all of the subjects, and they usually quit school completely. In the US, if a student does not pass a subject, he or she can retake only that one subject to pass class and continue on into the next year.
    Countries engaged in poor educational public policy will have less educated citizen’s than countries that have a good policy. The poor policy has a negative effect on the citizens. In the past, the citizens in Burma had the opportunity to study abroad and the educational system was as good as the American educational system. In 1962, after the Burmese military, led by General Ne Win, seized state power, only the military personnel had the opportunity to study abroad and the Burmese educational system concentrates on the military’s government policy and socialism, neglecting democracy and freedom. After a new Burmese military seized state power in 1988, the Burmese education system became so poor that students only needed to attend the University for two years to gain a B.A or B.Sc degree. This was because the Burmese military leaders were worried that educated students would oppose them.
    I conducted a survey of OSU undergraduate seniors by asking 1000 of them (1/2 men and ½ women from all over the world) if they thought that their high school preparation for college work was adequate. I also asked their ages, socio-economic level and the name of the country in which they received their high school degree. I found that there was a high correlation between Burmese respondent students who felt inadequately prepared (they only take 10 years of school before entering college) and low grades. American students who must take 12 years of pre-college classes before entering college, had better grades and responded that they felt more prepared for college classes than did the Burmese students who took 2 years less of pre-college classes. This has high internal validity and also could be considered to have high external validity because it showed that it can be generalized to other students attending colleges from all over the world who may not have done as extensive college preparatory work as American students. In other words, this survey would probably be valid if given to any undergraduate college seniors at any college in the world. The study also showed, in a similar manner, that Indian students had better college grades at American colleges than did American students because of the more rigorous secondary educational system and parental involvement in India than in America. However, this result might be diminished by the fact that superior grades in Indian students studying in America might be due to the student “selection process” that selects better students in the qualifying process to come to America.

    • The education system in Myanmar has established since British Colonial era. That system remained for many decades and slowly changed due to the circumstances. The same education system went on (except the parallel between private institutions and the public education structures) for many years like in other countries formerly colonized by the British. Only after nationalization process the authorities has implemented the use of official language in all subjects except one subject (English). It is fair enough to use one official language in teaching and learning process that applied in almost every country. If any particular ethnic group wishes to learn their own dialect they can also be added into extra curriculum work or additional language studies group. Sometimes people are trying to make things difficult for themselves and other as well. Think about the requirements for the whole curriculum to be rewritten in different language and retraining requirements for those delivering the lessons (proficiency skills in their language – Reading, writing and speaking). People need to consider the appropriate terms between “demand and submission’ for good cause. There are many things ahead of them that are achievable by some negotiations. Time is changing and things are moving forward. Solving problems in aggressive manner will never reach to a peaceful solution. Some would carelessly say that we must fight for our goals as the authorities aren’t listening. Think about many things happening and at the same time everyone wants to win over their issues alone.
      Some people are complaining about a lack of academic independence and freedom, and blamed the military rule for their negligence in educational development of the country. I would say this is not solely responsible for the authorities. The proven evidence supporting to this fact is the majority of people who are successfully living and earning both in and outside of the country are educated during the period between early 1950 and late 1980. Only few years was under the parliament democracy government and the rest of years were under the military government. The educational development and the stability of this country were tarnished after late 1980 by the waves of misdemeanor caused by some powerful authorities and the external influences. When the country was systematically destabilized more attention of the authorities was to sustain their power rather than any other businesses.
      Students union was also established those day for the well being of the students but most of their activities were more political than educational that was mostly under the heavy influence of leftists.
      In one of demands made by the student’s or whoever behind was to form a commission to oversee the country’s education system. It was established long time and functioned well but not in the same name. Yes, education system in this country was stalled due to the many factors including the lack of trust, incompetent and failure to realise the root of all causes. The students also need to understand what their rights and also not to forget their responsibilities of upholding the image, future and peaceful progress of this country.
      Someone has critised over the education system in this country based on the students need to pass all subjects in order to progress another grade. He compares this system with the current system using in US. There are many countries still following the old system and some countries follow the system similar to US. Some people from Myanmar may remember how that system has screened down the students based on their academic achievement and ability in learning. They have set up pathways for those students to enroll in vocational education and training institutions at different levels. It worked well for those students who are academically poor or less interest in classroom style learning. There are Industrial Trades Centres, Technical High Schools, Agricultural High Schools, Technical Institutes, Agricultural Institutes, Nursing Training Schools, etc. On the other hand students are required to pass the subjects by 40% only. Actually the pass mark is easy to achieve compare to the pass mark set in other countries. The people who work in the education systems abroad would know the grading system in those countries and the difference between the certificate of completion and the certificate of competency achievement. Not all those holding certificates in overseas are highly educated as someone thinks. The less educated citizens are not only products of poor policy alone it is also depending on individual effort, self discipline and determination to achieve the goal.
      Someone suggested that “Why doesn’t the government want to include improving these important conditions in education in it’s public policy?” If the person knows what to improve he/ she should provide some positive advice for the authorities who didn’t include in their work. That person has made reference to US education system in the comments as one good education system. He mentioned about studying opportunities in overseas before and during the military regime. There were very few people received scholarship grants and/ or self sponsored study in overseas before the military regime took over the power. Those people were known as (Naing Gan Gyar Byan regardless of whether they completed their studies or not) as a part of their title most of them were the children of big figures and rich people. Find out the facts right. There were more civilians than the military personals sent to overseas for further studies during the time of military regime.
      I believe that you live in US and begin to learn about how education system works in the US. The students in Myanmar also needed to take 12 years prior to enter any tertiary educational institutions in Myanmar that include 2 years in preparatory classes. I guess you are aware that in many countries including US are offering fast track degree program and many people are buying those diplomas. How was it ? Do you recognize those qualifications as the result of good education system? You may need to carry out another survey on your very own adopted country’s education system and tell the world how good it is.
      I am not interested in any politics or playing blame game but always trying to find the fact that is fair to everyone.
      You may have been enjoying your life in US and yet still concerned about your former country Myanmar. Think more positive and contribute something more beneficial to your former country. I am born, brought up, educated in that country and always appreciate what I received from that country.

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