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Sagaing students protest over changes to distance education

Students protest in Sagaing Division on 11 September, 2018. (Photo: DVB)

Over 400 students in Sagaing Region protested on Tuesday against a decision by the Monywa Education College to restrict distance education.

Lead by the Students’ Union for Monywa Education College, they demanded to meet and negotiate with officials from the college.

Myint Htwe, the student body president, said the Ministry of Education had been ignoring the voices of students.

Students are protesting a policy that denies third year students from transferring to distance education delivery while maintaining their progression within the course. The Monywa Education College instead will require prospective distance education students to retake their first and seconds years, via distance delivery, before continuing.

“We formed a committee representing all 14 students’ unions for educations colleges across Myanmar. The committee sent our demands to the Ministry of Education, but [we have received] no response so far. We think the ministry disrespects us,” Myint Htwe said.

Protestors carried placards that read: “Allow distance education from the third year” and “Negotiate with students for the right to freely select subjects”.

Other faculty members have been forced to temporarily manage the college after the rector’s retirement. Kyaw Myint, an administrator at the college, said the students were wrong to protest.

“When I heard of their plan to launch a protest, I met and negotiated with them. They will become teachers in the future, so they should follow regulations. They did not submit a request for permission to hold a peaceful protest. I want them to the follow the rules and regulations to hold a demonstration. I reported the situation to authorities,” he told DVB.

Despite looming exams on 17 September, students have threatened to stage more protests if their demands are not met. Students from colleges in Magwe, Pakkoku, and Mawlamyine are also planning protests.