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Education advocacy group lambasts higher education bill

The National Network for Education Reform (NNER) said the higher education bill proposed by the Ministry of Education does not guarantee academic freedom and is not up to the standards of democracy.

The NNER, which is organised by people who are involved in education, criticised the government’s education policies and reform processes since 2012.

“Universities should be able to stand totally freely and should be given the right to self-determination. To have self-determination, university administrative councils must be organised with teacher and student representatives. However, the higher education bill does not guarantee academic freedom and is not in line with democratic standards,” U Thein Lwin, an official of NNER said, at a seminar on Saturday.

He noted the bill proposes too much centralisation and approaches education from the economic view instead of a humanistic view.

Criticism of the higher education bill is increasing among teacher associations and student unions. They say the bill does not mention the right to organise teacher unions and student unions freely.

Ko Aung Htet Aung, central working committee member of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, said the higher education bill must promote and protect the welfare and rights of students and teachers, but it would have no positive impact on teachers and students.

“The bill is not based on public consultations, so the government should not proceed with the bill. It has to listen to the voices of the people,” he added.

In January, the Representative Committee of University Teachers’ Associations declared that the provisions in the higher education draft law are inconsistent with the National Education Law 2014 and the amended law of 2015 so the association could not support the bill.

The process of drafting the bill did not include representatives of teachers and students, so it is not inclusive, and the draft law was written without democratic standards and transparency, the association said.

At the end of last year, the Ministry of Education distributed four bills related to education: the Basic Education Bill, Higher Education Bill, Private Education Bill and the Technology Vocational Education and Training Bill.

The NNER is reviewing six university charters that were drafted by the universities and will reveal their findings on the charters this week.

Source : Myanmar Times

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