New curriculum excludes general Aung San

Jun 26, 2008 (DVB), The military regime in Burma has removed a speech and writings by the late independence hero general Aung San and peace architect Thakhin Kodaw Hmaing from this year's basic high school curriculum.

'People's Assembly', an excerpt from a speech by general Aung San, and 'The elders and the young' and 'When Thabyay sprouts', an essay and a poem written by Thakhin Kodaw Hmaing, will no longer be studied on the 10th standard curriculum this academic year.

A Rangoon high school student told DVB that teachers had not explained to students why these texts had been taken out.

"My teacher told me about the changes in the curriculum but she didn't say what the reason was," said the student.

"I think the curriculum should include something about general Aung San who brought independence to our country so students will be able to learn about him in their classrooms."

General Aung San, the father of pro-democracy icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, is widely respected in Burma to this day for his role in bringing about independence.

A retired teacher from Rangoon said that she disagreed with the regime's move because she thought history could not be eliminated and younger generations should be aware of their past heroes.

"General Aung San is the father of Burma's independence. I don't think his speech should be taken out," the teacher said.

"I don't think the writing of anyone who helped bring independence to us should be removed from the curriculum either," she went on.

"I want the younger generations to understand what patriotism is since they don't seem to care about it much."

The authorities say the curriculum has been changed in order to reach international standards.

But a former lecturer at Rangoon University's Burmese Department, Daw Nyein Khet Khet, claimed that there were political motives behind the recent changes.

Daw Nyein Khet Khet, better known as the author May Nyein, said she thought the intention of the military regime was to diminish the influence of Burma's independence fighters and diminish political sentiments among young people.

"Both general Aung San and Thakhin Kodaw Hmaing's words are about patriotism, nationalism, freedom, democracy and rights," the author said.

"I think they particularly want to get rid of the general's speech because he gave guidance to young people on what to do in his articles," she said.

"By removing the valuable words of these past heroes, I think they are trying to wipe out the political will among the younger generations."

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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