Students Resume Protests Against National Education Law

Students marching along 84th Street in Mandalay on Tuesday, at the beginning of their planned journey to Rangoon to protest the National Education Law. (Photo: Teza Hlaing / The Irrawaddy)

Students marching along 84th Street in Mandalay on Tuesday, at the beginning of their planned journey to Rangoon to protest the National Education Law. (Photo: Teza Hlaing / The Irrawaddy)

MANDALAY — More than 100 people set out on a march from Mandalay to Rangoon on Tuesday, as student leaders restarted a dormant campaign to protest the National Education Law.

In November, student groups had called a 60-day moratorium after four days of countrywide protests against the law. In the interim, student groups requested the establishment of a 15-member committee comprising students, government leaders, parliamentarians and the National Network for Education Reform to discuss changes to the law. The moratorium expired on Friday without an official response, leading to students traveling from as far afield as Monywa, Sagaing and Pakokku to join the march.

“We received no responses from the government during those 60 days,” said Ei Thinzar Maung, a member of the Mandalay District Student Union. “That’s why we have resumed protests, to draw attention of the government to the need to democratically amend the National Educational Law.”

The overhaul of the country’s education system was passed by Parliament in Sept. 2014, in the face of strong criticism from students and educators.

Student groups have presented a number of demands for the bill’s overhaul, including a legislative guarantee for the free establishment of student and teacher unions independent of the government, changes to the exam and entrance systems at the universities, the introduction of ethnic languages, and a modernization of the syllabus at basic education schools and universities.

“The government needs to increase the budget allocation for education to 20 percent, and student activists removed from school need to be allowed to return to the classroom,” said Min Thwe Thit, one of the protesting students. “Hopefully the government will listen to us and they will amend the law for the sake of our future education. If not, we will have to continue nationwide protests until our demands are met.”

The students say they plan to link up with other protesters during the 650-kilometer (404-mile), 15-day journey to Rangoon. Upon arrival, they intend to establish a protest camp which will urge the government to negotiate with students and teachers over future changes to the law.

2 Responses to Students Resume Protests Against National Education Law

  1. Government won’t listen to students. The Government is only interesting in power. They will oppose and not allow anything that threaten to their power. Quasi Government and Military leaders are power monger. There will be no true freedom and democracy in Burma as long as quasi Government in Burma. Do what you believe and fight for what you believe.

  2. Dear Sir

    After reading education campaign and news report, it is time that the Education sector and department shall be allocated to the State and Division Governments like other democratic countries like USA< Canada, Australia and other UK's nations. The Union Government of Myanmar and its own Ministry of Education have to review wide – range of policy setting. Education sector, at least from Primary to High school and college shall be leaving at the hand of the State and Regional Governments. The Union Government is now totally controlled the entire sector. It won't solve the problem unless Teacher's Union and Students' Union have equal voice and rights to protect their interests.

    Primary and Secondary education sectors are simple a matter of local people and government.

    Higher education sector could be integrated to the need of the entire nation but the government has to work with local needs on employment, economy and prosperity.

    University education is free from all government's control.

    It is simple that each sector take responsibility with rule of laws.

    Now, we are having a democratic government with a military order on hands.

    Teachers and students Unions shall be allowed to form under the laws. It is a legal institution.

    Why we are wasting time and resources with little vision to the current Education laws.

    MPs and leaders from UNA, UNFC and NLD must read again and change within.

    It is the EDUCATION that rebuild our new Nations in the next 30-60 years.

    We have been lacking behind for over 65 years.

    It is an evil act if we ban students to express theirs own concerns and interest.

    They will be leading our new democratic by 2050.

    It is time our MPs and leaders pressure President U Thein Sein to change hid mind.

    MPs have the right to do so.

    Parents have to power to advocate.

    Monks have moral duty to campaign.

    Students have the rights to voice their concerns.

    It is a legitimate campaign.

    It is a well-planned campaign.

    At the end, they all need income, jobs, families and life.

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