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Monywa students protest Education Bill

Students at Monywa University joined the growing opposition to Burma's draft National Education Bill, 24 September 2014. (PHOTO: DVB)

Students from Monywa University in Sagaing Division on Wednesday launched a campaign opposing the National Education Bill.

The controversial bill, passed by parliament at the end of July, has been a subject of criticism among educators and students alike. Several student protests have been held around the country, claiming that the new bill would centralise decision-making and grant too much power to the Ministry of Education.

Around 50 students from the Monywa University Students’ Union Network on Wednesday distributed leaflets and spoke to fellow students at the gate to the campus, explaining why they believed the National Education Bill should be rejected.

“We demand the abolition of the National Education Commission and the Coordination Committee for Higher Education (CCHE), which both centralise control of our education,” said San Wai Phyo, coordinator of the Monywa University Students Union Network.

 

“We want to see the inclusion of articles in the bill that allow freedom to students and lecturers to form associations and unions at their campus.”

The protestors at Monywa University also called for a tri-lingual education system – in Burmese, English, and ethnic languages – which, they said, would promote ethnic unity in the multinational Union of Burma.

A clause in chapter four of the draft National Education Bill said centralisation of power would be decreased only if teachers and lecturers “display good conduct and attitude”, which students deemed an insult to teachers and education staff.

University students across Burma, since March this year, have been campaigning against the bill, even before it was approved by parliament. The CCHE to date has not responded to their calls.

San Wai Phyo said the Monywa student protestors will now step up their campaign in solidarity with student associations from other universities.