October 19, 2017

The Role of Education in Relation to Peace Building in Myanmar

  • Maung Mye Moe 

Myanmar’s situation is historical on many accounts and we are trying to have peaceful consolidation of culture and structure. Moreover we are all in good time to set out the foundations for our state and society based on peace, human rights, democracy, social justice and freedom. The Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (2008) aims at ensuring the right of equality, the right of liberty and the right of justice for every citizen who is responsible for public peace and tranquility and prevalence of law and order. It is believed that schools, universities and education institutions are the most important centres of providing knowledge, cultivating good attitude and introducing practices on democracy, peace education and human rights for peace building of Myanmar. The National Education Law also aims to set out the fundamental democratic values through education. In Chapter 2 of the National Education Law describes the objectives of national education as follows:- (a) To train physically, mentally, morally, socially and psychologically well-developed good citizens with critical thinking skills; (b) To nurture and produce citizens who respect and follow the law by practicing their civics and democratic duties and upholding standards of human rights; (c) To develop union spirit and to nurture citizens who respect, value, preserve and develop the ethnic groups’ languages, literatures, culture, arts, traditions, and historical heritage of all the nationalities and who value and conserve the natural environment and pass these things on to the new  generations;  On the 19th September, 2017, State Counsellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi delivered a historic public speech on Myanmar government’s efforts at reconciliation and peace and she said, “Peace and stability was something that we had to achieve after nearly 70 years of internal conflict that started on the day of our independence back in 1948. And development has to be achieved within the context of the first two – nurturing democratic values, establishing peace and stability, and achieving the kind of sustainable development that would be seen as equitable by all our people”.The democratic values stemming from the Constitution, National Education Law and State Counsellor’s speech should form the basis of the education system. The fundamental democratic values related to educational implications include democracy, social justice and equity, equality, non-sexism and non-racism, human dignity, open society, accountability, rule of law, respect and reconciliation.For democracy, the education strongly implies the empowerment of population to exercise democratic rights, provision of skills to participate and cultivation of the practice to think critically and act responsibly.Social justice and equity is very essential to peace and reconciliation. The access to education is the most important resource in addressing poverty – only then will liberty be achieved. Reconciliation requires social justice to address past injustices – education for all is an essential element of social justice.Equality that represents the inclusiveness of the education takes part as the vital role and it is the access for all to an educational provision that does not discriminate on any grounds. Equality in the treatment of all must be achieved by all.Non-sexism and non-racism are important to make the right to education becomes a reality for each and every child in Myanmar, regardless of ethnicity, citizen status of the parents, gender and geographic location or levels of income. In this way, the learners will afford the same opportunities and the same degree of security.For human dignity, the education importantly provides mutual understanding and active appreciation of the value of human differences such as racial, cultural, religious, etc.To develop an open society, the involvement of the community is very important and it must be participation rather than observation. As a result, the community will achieve the empowerment to think and act through a culture of dialogues and debates.Accountability is very important agenda in democracy and all the education stakeholders have to take the power and responsibility for all involved in education and these will include learners, teachers, parents, educators, education managers and the communities.Rule of law is vital in human society and it must be learned, trained and practiced from the schools, universities and education institutions and they are centres of importance to comprehend and obey the rules within which learners, educators, managers, parents, etc. operate.Respect is the precondition for communication and teamwork and schools require the training to have mutual respect between all the partners and among the learners.Reconciliation is very essential practice for all learners and it is a matter of acceptance of all individuals through learning about each other, valuing differences and diversity.The above fundamental values need to be built in parallel to already functioning schools. To promote the peace development and democracy practices in schools, there will be two essential works- the development of peace education curriculum and providing training courses to teachers, school principals, staff, interested parents, and other community members in support of the collective effort. As our country, Myanmar is expecting profound changes from the education sector due to the emergence of the People’s Government; all the stakeholders should join hands to make the necessary contributions for the uplift of education sector, including the development of peace education and democracy practices in schools. In doing so, our education can definitely help to build a more inclusive, more tolerant and more peaceful Myanmar in the near future.

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