Myanmar Leader Urges Education Law Rethink

  • Myanmar’s President has called on Parliament to rethink aspects of a new education bill in the face of renewed student protests, state-backed media said  as activists vowed to continue demonstrations.
  • According to an Information Ministry statement published in the Global New Light of Myanmar : President Thein Sein asked lawmakers to reconsider some sections of the controversial bill
  • He also said amendments would “contribute towards peace and stability, allowing students to pursue their education peacefully”.
  • Dozens of young campaigners began an unauthorised cross-country protest march to the commercial hub Yangon, in a show of defiance by students, who have historically been at the forefront of political activism in the former junta-run nation.
  • Protesters said the statement  which suggested adding “inclusive education” to the law without elaborating on who would be affected fell short of their demands.
  • Students, who staged almost a week of rallies in November over the law which they say curbs academic freedom, renewed their campaign
  • Students said that government had failed to meet their demands for talks.
  • They want the law altered to include free and compulsory education until children reach their early teens, permission to form student and teacher unions and teaching in ethnic minority languages.
  • Myanmar was rocked by massive student-led demonstrations against authoritarianism in 1988 that propelled Aung San Suu Kyi into the democracy fight
  • But the democracy fight ended with a brutal military crackdown.
  • Outright army rule ended in 2011 and the country has seen Western sanctions largely dropped in response to reforms.