Myanmar Junta Looks to Replace Striking University Staff

By The Irrawaddy 12 May 2021

Myanmar’s military-controlled Higher Education Department is planning to replace striking university and college staff.

The regime has suspended many striking educators and administrative staff after they refused orders to return to work to reopen doctorate, master’s degree and final-year bachelor’s degree studies on May 5 nationwide.

According to the representative committee for the University Teachers’ Association, around 13,000 staff had been suspended by May 8 but the number could be higher as some universities have yet to name the staff who have joined the civil disobedience movement (CDM).

Those suspended include professors, lecturers, security guards and cleaners.

The regime made job announcements for educational positions before suspending the striking staff. On May 7, the regime extended the deadline for job applications and postponed written exams.

The regime has also reportedly relaxed age limits for applicants, allowing those as old as 44 to apply for positions.

“No educator was born overnight. Everyone with a brain knows this helter-skelter replacement will not work,” said a striking member of East Yangon University staff.

People have praised strikers who were included in the suspension list and staff take pride in being suspended for joining the CDM, the academic said.

“Educators have a clear conscience as they stand by justice. I believe striking teachers will fight until the end for the sake of justice,” the source told The Irrawaddy.

Some suspended staff said they were told by their rectors that they would not be punished if they appealed and returned to work by May 11.

The military regime also recently conducted promotion interviews with non-CDM academics to replace striking rectors and their deputies, according to strikers.

The regime is also pushing to reopen basic education schools in June amid widespread calls for a boycott of the education system under military rule.

Photos of office letters, instructing district and township education offices to appoint temporary teachers where necessary, spread on social media. There have been reports of applications in some areas.

“Most staff refuse to work to stand by justice. I doubt the opportunists who stand by injustice will be able to fill the positions. I don’t think it will be successful no matter how much they try,” said a striker.

While the military council is offering promotions and other incentives, it has also been issuing arrest warrants for staff ranging from rectors to primary school teachers under Article 505(a) of the Penal Code.