Monday, October 06, 2008

Burmese Student Leaders Plan a Revolution Through Education

February 23rd, 2008 by King Kong Janoi , Asia Calling

Military government has announced that a draft of the nation’s new constitution has been completed. The draft will be put to a referendum in May, and be followed by elections in 2010, according to state media.

Little is known of the contents of the document, which was drawn up without the participation of the country’s political opposition or ethnic groups.

The country has not had a constitution since the military seized power in 1990, after refusing the recognise Ms Suu Kyi’s victory in the national election.

The political deadlock has had a impact on all aspects of Burmese life, including education.

Burmese youth groups in exile in Thailand are fighting to have the junta overthrown.

As King Kong Janoi reports they are doing that through education.

A group of Burmese students and migrant workers are listening to a lecturer about the political process back in their homeland. This event in the northern city of Chiang Mai is run by the Overseas National Students Organisation of Burma.

Ma Thi-ri Chit Sein is the spokesperson for the group.

“We are not satisfied with this situation right now. If all of us get involved in our countries political crisis one day we may achieve the goal and we can solve problems as such economy hardship. But to get that we have to be prepared to make sacrifices ourselves. If we don’t pay anything, we never get it.”

Thiri believes the key to creating change is educating and empowering young minds.

As part of this campaign they provide computer training to the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers and Burmese students in Thailand.

“We train young people how to use computers because nowadays if the people can use computer and internet they can access more information and they can develop more knowledge. We have some newspapers in the country but they can reach the world through the internet. That’s why we are encouraging to give computer training for youth.”

There are no official figures of Burmese university students in Thailand but it is believed that there are more than a thousand.

Ko Zin Lat who studies at Assumption University in Bangkok says it’s hard to get a good education in Burma.

The universities he says are in a very poor state.

Having a Burmese degree is like having a fake document he says.

One of my friends, he continues, did medicine at university but when he finished he was not confident enough to work as a doctor because his schooling was so poor.

“But mostly young people in Burma can not to university because they are working and trying to survive.”

He believes if more young people in Burma receive an education then the movement against the military government will grow stronger.

“Many students from the universities were involved in the September uprisings. Educated people learn about what democracy is and how developed the outside world. You know our country is weak in education and weak in business because of the military dictatorship.”

But Kyaw Lin Oo from the Thai NGO believes poor uneducated people are the real hero’s of the fight for democracy in Burma.

“Those outside the country get a good education and they have good access to information technology but the young people who are living inside face the reality of the military government everyday. The people who are living inside are the courageous ones who have being fighting against the military regime.”

Burmese NGO worker in Thailand Ko Kyaw Lin Oo says most people in Burma are poor and struggling.

“They don’t have education and they don’t have a job. They don’t have income so they are hopeless. They have only one hope that to remove the junta. If they remove junta, they know every thing will change in their life. May be they don’t know what is democracy? And what is human right? They know how is poor in their right now.”

Back at the meeting of young Burmese in Chiang Mai, Thi-ri from the overseas student organization is calling on everyone to join the fight for democracy in Burma.

“Only young people can not solve the problem, all people, all classes must be involved and only then will we achieve our goal. It’s time a younger generation took over. But the problem is that the junta is closes their eyes and ears. Young minds are filled with what the junta wants them to think. Only people, who are living outside country can access information and learn about another way to live.”

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