Investing in research secures a brighter future

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  • A couple of days ago, a paper reading session on research development was held at the Printing and Publishing Department on Theinbyu Road in Yangon. The session, held on 10 November, was facilitated by the Ministry of Information and was intended to highlight the role of research and development in Myanmar and establish research-oriented organizations in the country.
    Just as Information Minister Dr. Pe Myint said in his opening speech at the paper reading session, listening to researchers offers valuable insights into their thinking and reasoning, as well as expert analysis and thoughtful evaluations.
    But the main aim of the paper reading session was to generate consensus to revive the historic Burma Research Society, or at least establish a similar well-grounded society.
    Myanmar once had a prominent academic society that was devoted to historical research. The aptly named Burma Research Society was founded in 1910 and recruited not only scholars from Myanmar, but from abroad as well. It published original research which appeared in the Journal of the Burma Research Society two to three times a year.
    The Society was founded and first led by J S Furnivall, and later continued under the helm of U May Aung, Hmawby Sayar Thein, and U Tun Nyein. The society initially had 213 members and grew gradually to hold yearly discussions.
    Sadly, the society was discontinued in 1980, and although a university journal based on research was published after this, it too ceased printing 20 years later.
    Some years ago, a similar journal was proposed by Prof. James C. Scott of Yale University, who wanted to revive the tradition of the Journal of the Burma Research Society. Eventually his efforts paid off, and after acquiring multiple grants and conducting workshops with Burmese scholars, the first issue of the ‘Independent Journal of Burmese Scholarship’ was published in August 2016. Their second issue was published in May this year, in both Burmese and English. The themes of the first and second issues were poverty and everyday justice, respectively.
    Every developed country has a strong research community whose works offer a better understanding of things that can be immensely beneficial in the future. In addition, publishing of scholarly works in journals allows the public to access them and provide their feedback.
    The initiative to reestablish a strong research society for Myanmar’s development is a much-welcomed move that would be further empowered by active support from the country’s citizens.
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