National Day and historical lessons

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Marble stone slab inscribed the names of the eleven students at the Shwedagon Pagoda.  PHOTO: SOE MIN

By Maha Saddhamma Jotika Dhaza Sithu Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt

This year National Day အမျိုးသားနေ့ or National Victory Day (အမျိုးသားအောင်ပွဲနေ့) falls in December.
If you visit Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, you will meet under a big Banyan Tree at the south west corner a big stone pillar on which the following inscription is found.
“This is the venue where on the waning moon 8th Myanmar Era 1282 eleven Yangon University students met to decide to boycott the Yangon University Act.
The names of eleven Yangon University students are as follows:-
1.Ba Khin, 2.PhoKun, 3.Ba U,4.Aung Din, 5. Htun Win, 6.PeThein, 7.Ba Shin (Thandwe), 8.BaShin (Dawei), 9. K. Nyi Peik,10.Hla Tin, 11.Maung Aye
On other three faces of an elongated sagyin (marble) stone slab are inscribed the names of the eleven students in Burmese, English, French and Slavonic languages.
All students know National Victory Day အမျိုးသားအောင်ပွဲနေ့ is the red letter in Tazaungmon month (December). But not all students of old and new generations know its history let alone entire Myanmar people. Perhaps many or some have attended public talks in this day by teachers, and writers or politicians.
Golden Jubilee of this Day was celebrated on November 28, 1970. This year 9th December 2020 would be also celebrated National Day.
All students, especially history major students should know the history and historian lessons of this red letter Day in December Tazaungmon.
In our long struggle for national independence from British Colonial Rule (also Japanese Fascist Rule in World War II occupation) this National Day or National Victory Day was the first stage of success by peaceful means of education.
Well-known in those days as Yangon University Boycott of British Colonial Education. (Even Boycott was used as Myanmar word (ဘွိုင်ကော့) instead of strike (သပိတ်မှောက် ). Thakhin Kodaw Hmaing composed a long Boycott Dekar (ဘွိုင်ကော့ဋီကာ)
The British colonial education nurtured only slavish mentality to produce English educated “Black English men to serve British colonial rule faithfully from lower Division Clerk to select IC.C.S. highly anglicized administration who entirely forgot that they were Burmese with their own culture and the entire people and country was under Myanmar kings over a thousand years.

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On 5 December, 1920, the unpopular new British regulations led the students at Yangon University to protest. Marble stone slab inscribed the names of the eleven students.  PHOTO: SOE MIN

The boycotter set up the Council of National Education by which they set up National Colleges and National schools where Myanmar language literature, culture were introduced. English language literature and history were maintained as they were useful.
Boycotters’ taught at National College and National Schools. B.A. (Nat) B.Sc. (Nat) were conferred. After the fashion of English Degree were combined they made B.A. (Nat) for National colleges. Volunteers (senior boycotters and college students taught a National Schools without salary. Students raised fund to give their teachers’ support.
The British colonial government seeing the success of Boycott gave in marking Yangon University residential as well as non-residential Myanmar history, language and literature, pali and Myanmar culture were introduced into curricula and syllabuses.
The prime movers of national education at Yangon University were Saya Gyi U Pe Maung Tin, Thakhin Kodaw Hmaing, and many Thakhins (men) and Thakingmas (women). With General Council of Burmese Association (G.C.B.A) national education gradually progress and prosper giving with the renaissance of old Burmese literature and literature and culture birth of new experimental Burmese literature properly called Khit San Sarpay (‌ခေတ်စမ်းစာပေ)
“Bricks are fallen down. But we shall re-build with hewn stones
“‌‌မြေအုတ်များ ပြိုလေရာ၊ ကျောက်အုတ်များဖြင့် တည်ဆောက်အံ့” is the well know motto of Yangon University of those days.
Especially new generations such as school students or Myanmar public of today should know the significance of this red letter day National Victory Day. အမျိုးသားအောင်ပွဲနေ့
Due to space limit the writer begs to stop here.

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