Burma’s Ministry of Education has offered to facilitate discussions between students protesting against the National Education Law and concerned parliamentary committees.
The ministry’s Education Promotion Implementation Committee (EPIC) announced via state media on Tuesday that it will address issues and demands presented by the students who have conducted daily street demonstrations in Rangoon since last Friday.
The EPIC statement said the Ministry of Education consulted with students, teachers, parents and all concerned parties when drafting the National Education Bill, and “re-polished’ the bill several times based on their suggestions. It said the Education Ministry also invited more suggestions and contributions in drafting bylaws into the National Education Law and university charters.
The students have issued a 60-day deadline for the government to meet their demands, threatening to step up protests if it stalls.
Speaking to DVB, Min Zeyar of the 88 Generation students group said, “There are two main reasons for the protest: the lack of protection and need for improvement in students’ rights; and the need to reverse declining education standards.”
Hla Shwe, a student leader in 1962, said, “The National Education Law was drafted by the government with a focus on controlling and oppressing student activities instead of educational development and bringing international-level education to Burma. There is still no education system in the country that can guarantee a future for each student.”
Meanwhile, 2007 student protest leader D Nyein Linn noted that the protest included calls for other issues to be addressed, including schooling in ethnic areas.
“The National Education Law does not include provisions for students to learn in their mother language,” he said. “We are protesting in order to highlight these issues to the public.”