Burma’s Ministry of Education has retracted an invitation to the National Network for Education Reform (NNER) to attend a national education reform seminar in Naypyidaw, claiming that the invite was sent accidentally.
NNER, a non-governmental reform committee, was told on Monday that they will not be among the delegates at the event, scheduled for 5-6 March. The Ministry said that the welcome had been a “misunderstanding”.
“The Ministry of Education’s retraction of the invitation signifies a restriction on the NNER, [which is] looking to create democratic education reform in the country in accordance with the public’s will,” NNER said in a statement.
NNER member Ye Win said that he could only assume the government retracted the invitation to block a channel for criticism.
“This shows there is still a centralisation of power in the government. I can only assume they are worried about us saying things like this in the seminar, preventing them from going ahead with their own plan,” said Ye Win.
Speaking under the alias “Dr. Bio”, another NNER member said, “despite the rhetoric in President Thein Sein’s monthly radio speeches — ‘the people’s voice is the Hluttaw’s voice, the people’s desire is the Hluttaw’s desire’ — [this incident] leads to only one conclusion: they are all hypocrites.”
The NNER, an independent network of university professors, lecturers, teachers and students, drafted an educational policy that has been submitted for parliamentary review, though it is still unclear when Burma will make moves to adopt new educational legislation, and what it will be.
Two days of conferences, organised by the Ministry’s Education Promotion Implementation Committee, will address development at all levels of schooling; from kindergarten to university.
President Thein Sein is scheduled to attend, assuming that his invitation was not issued by accident.