Professors voice support for student protests

Professors voice support for student protests

The Rangoon University Teachers’ Association (RUTA) has announced its support for students protesting the National Education Bill.

In a 12-point statement released on 10 December, RUTA said it supports protests held in various cities across the country by students and university lecturers against enactment of the controversial draft law, and is confident that their “selfless acts are aimed at serving the best interests of future generations”.

Universities across Burma have been invited to send representatives – one professor and one lecturer each – to a conference at Rangoon University’s Diamond Jubilee Hall, which organisers hope to host this weekend.

RUTA joint-secretary Pyeit Phyo Kyaw said the statement was released prior to the event to reflect the Teachers’ Association’s stance on the issue.

“We have been invited to send two representatives to the talk – one member of the Association and one professor. If we participate, we will base our discussions on the 12 points of the statement,” he said.

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The RUTA joint-secretary said the Association was also joining efforts to establish an education body that would allow transparency and the inclusion of lecturers and students when making appointments to university departments.

The controversial National Education Law was enacted by the Union Parliament in July this year, triggering student protests across the country. Protest leaders last month issued a 60-day deadline to amend the law, threatening to step up demonstrations if demands were not met.

The bill provides for the creation of a National Education Commission, which civil society organisations such as the National Network for Education Reform say they believe will keep the education sector under tight government control.

Burma’s education system was stymied under decades of military rule, a period which also saw the imposition of policies geared towards disenfranchisement of the nation’s minorities. The country is sorely short of highly-skilled instructors and the budget allocated for the school system is under six percent of national spending.

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