Myanmar needs to get dialogue going with students, teachers: Education minister


In an exclusive interview with Channel NewsAsia, Dr Myo Thein Gyi said it is very important to have a dialogue, not only with teachers but also students, in the wake of last year’s violent crackdown on student protesters.

Myanmar’s new education minister said that the country needs to get a dialogue going with students to reduce the tensions that still remain after last year’s violent crackdown on student protesters.

In an exclusive interview with Channel NewsAsia – the first since his appointment in April – Dr Myo Thein Gyi said this dialogue, not just with students but also teachers, was very important.

Many had questioned Dr Myo Thein Gyi’s appointment as he was one of those responsible for the national education law under the former government. Students called the law undemocratic and their protests resulted in last year’s police crackdown.

Perhaps Dr Myo Thein Gyi has learnt from that experience: when asked, he spoke about his new plans for autonomy in Myanmar’s universities. Said Dr Myo: “We would like to introduce university autonomy, phase by phase. The first priority may be academic freedom. We are now trying to introduce academic freedom at higher education institutions, (but) we haven’t yet implemented it in line with national education laws.

“If we’re facing challenges, we have to work together with the community. We have to reduce the tension between the Ministry of Education and students. That’s why we need to have a dialogue with not only the teachers, but also with the students. This is very important. We have to see what we can do and how we can work together with the teachers and students.”