Myanmar is in the midst of a massive upheaval. Following the 2011 dissolution of the military junta that had controlled the country since 1962, the country has begun a process of democratization and reform. But now, just after the Ministry of Education hosted a forum on reforming an educational system in desperate need of change, the government is facing criticism for excluding the National Network for Education Reform (NNER), a prominent civil group attached to the National League for Democracy (NLD), the opposition party. “In their latest action, they have denied us participation. We don’t think their process is inclusive enough,” said NNER member Sai Khaing Myo Tun.
Thein Lwin, speaking for the NLD education bloc, said 150 members of the NNER were initially invited to attend the forum, but then the government abruptly revoked their invitations. “We had already prepared to go, and they cancelled,” said Lwin. “It is difficult to work together with the government because this is not the first time they have changed their minds. It’s difficult to believe them, to trust them.”
The Ministry of Education is currently in a two-year process of reviewing the public school system, identifying major priorities and recommending new policies. Ministry officials in charge of the Comprehensive Education Sector Review maintain that their process is inclusive and that they are collaborating with civil groups, NGOs, and community organizations.
In this latest process of education reform, civil groups like the NNER are calling for autonomous universities, higher teacher pay, and lessons involving ethnic minorities and multilingual education.
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