- By A University Faculty Member
This article is an attempt to clarify the esteemed readers on the ground reality in connection with the demand for more educational budget. The actual intent is to understand the situation and draw lesson on the issue.
In some universities, the students unions are being constituted and that Yadanabon University has formed All Burma Students Union (Ba Ka Ta) and the Yadanabon University Students Union
( Ya Ta Ka Ta). On 8 January 2018, Ba Ka Ta sought permission from Yadanabon University Rector to hold an educational seminar, and it was duly accorded permission to hold on 20 and 21 January 2018. Necessary assistances were also provided. This is the starting point of the issue in this regards.
Peaceful pursuance of education
The Ba Ka Ta students of Yadanabon University conducted the Ba Ka Ta League’s Educational Seminar at Yadanabon University on 20 and 21 January 2018 for two days. After holding the seminar, the students that attended the discussions started to gather at the front of the Yadanabon University Main Building on 22 January 2018. The purpose of gathering was to expose their demand for more educational budget, it was learnt. The rector, pro-rector and educational team of faculty members asked them to refrain from disturbances on the pursuance of peaceful teaching environment in the class rooms and called them in for peaceful submission of their requirements.
Yadanabon University Ba Ka Ta League chairman Maung Kyaw Thiha Ye Kyaw insisted that as the students of Yadanabon University are permitted to attend the University Training Corps (UTC), and therefore they have the rights to expose their desire freely. Then, the students marched near the class rooms in protest inside the campus.
While the lectures were in progress in the class rooms, they used the hand held loud speakers and demanded the enhancement of educational budget, provision of adequate teaching aids, and the construction of hostels in the campus.
In the afternoon, the rector and educational team of faculty members held discussions with the student leaders, but they responded that until or unless the authorities of the Ministry of Education come in for discussion, they would continue the protest and establish a strike base of demonstration.
Next, the protesters continued their demands over the hand held loud speakers. On 22 January 2018, seven officials of Ministry of Education including the Yadanabon University rector and seven leaders of Ba Ka Ta started the discussions in the meeting hall (1).
The three-point demands were submitted to the Director-General and the Deputy Director-General. The DG replied that among the three-point demands, the construction of hostels and the provision of teaching aids were included in the next year plan. He said that in the upcoming academic year, a total of (71) hostels for the students are to be built in the country, and that one teaching device would be allocated to five-students instead of present ten-students. Regarding the demand number (1) on the enhancement of educational budget, the Department of Education would submit proposal for more budget to the Ministry of Education. At 8: 15 pm, the students asked for a break of 15 minutes for their private discussions.
At that junction, the Deputy Director-General Dr. Aung Aung Min communicated through the telephone to officials of the Lower House and the Upper House for a meeting with lawmakers. It is to be communicated in writing to the Speaker of Lower House and that on a convenient date; a meeting could be realized at Meeting Hall (I – 13) of the Parliament premises.
After the short break of 15 minutes, the students came back into the meeting room, the student leader Maung Yazar Htun declared that the students would not go to the Parliament premises. He added that unless the responsible persons with full authority from the Union Parliament must come to them for budget enhancement, the protest and demonstration would be accelerated to high degree. The meeting was adjourned at 9 pm and agreed to meet again at 10:00 am on 23 January 2018.
At 10:30 am on 23 January 2018, the responsible persons of the Ministry of Education and the student leaders met and discussed again. Deputy Director-General Dr. Aung Aung Min asked the seven student leaders to agree in meeting with the responsible persons of the Union Parliament for educational budget fill up. If agreed, the vehicles for transport would be arranged to proceed to Nay Pyi Taw.
When Ba Ka Ta student leader Maung Kyaw Thiha Ye Kyaw responded with a refusal, the Yadanabon University Teachers Union member intervened and explained the year by year enhancement of educational budget of the country in statistics from 5.9 per cent starting from fiscal year 2014-2015 to 8.53 per cent in 2017-2018.
Scrutiny of expenditure
The respective (13) Budget Management Committees of the Union Parliament have been scrutinizing all the budget proposals of various ministries in a proper mechanism, and that the endorsed budgets by the management committees are approved by the Speaker of the Union Parliament.
Instead of demanding 15 per cent budget increase by the students and calling the persons with authority to come and meet with the students, it would be much better to travel to Nay Pyi Taw for further discussions. However, the discussions failed and the Ba Ka Ta students declared to intensify and increase with hunger strike in the protest.
As the demand was tantamount to put the government into difficulty and not in conformity with the current situation of the country, one of the members of the Yadanabon University Teachers’ Union asked the student leaders to reconsider their demand. Then, the student leaders asked for a break for 15 minutes for discussions and left the meeting room. When they came back, they demanded that a person with full authority must come to them and sign an assurance document promising a 15 per cent budget increase, otherwise, the protest would be continued and heightened.
On 24 January 2018, the students marched inside the university campus with hand held loud speakers shouting slogans. Moreover, the protesters entered the class rooms with flags in protests. At 5 pm in the evening of 24 January, seven student leaders and the official of the Ministry of Education met and had a discussion. It has been advised to take the opportunity to proceed to Parliament to have a discussion. However, the student leaders refused by saying that if no one signs the document for budget increase, then the discussion was considered as failure, and they left the meeting hall.
A disturbance to teaching environment
The activities of student protesters included the entry into the class rooms of the Yadanabon University, giving agitated speeches, and the disturbing of teaching process have resulted with the tolerance and anger of students, leading to conflict among them. Therefore, in line with the proper management procedure, the protesters were dispersed from the main building and send them back to their respective parents by the faculty members.
With the assistance and support of the Mandalay Region Government, students were transported Mandalar Thiri Sports Ground with the Express Buses at 4:15 am on 25 January 2018 escorted by faculty members. In cooperation and coordination between the regional governments, total of (72) students were entrusted back into embrace of their parents by the faculty members.
On the following day, the student protesters came back into the campus and gathered at the students’ union office. Due to the undesirable acts, (12) students of Yadanabon University were taken disciplinary action under University Entrance Directive namely Section (d) paragraph (1) and serial (6) regarding the breach of decent and proper character of student, and the breach of university code and regulations under rule (1) on 26 January 2018. The Yadanabon University Management Board through a meeting decided in suspending the students from the academic year 2017-2018. However, the past precedence existed that the students were accepted back into the university to pursue education with the petition of the parents.
With the motto such as “Let us endeavor to be good person, and let us train to be fine personality”, the universities in the country are nurturing bright, brilliant and glowing educated youth in the nation. Today’s age is education age, and that the enhancing and uplifting of education is the ardent desire of all nationals and the entire country. Therefore, the author sincerely urged all concerned “To work in cooperation with kind hearts for betterment of Myanmar education” in the country.
Translated by UMT (Ahlon)