“Investment in Children” NGO Child Rights Working Group (NCRWG) and Members of Parliament from Population and Social Development Committee held a one-day meeting on 11 March 2015 in Pyithu Hluttaw, Nay Pyi Taw, to discuss increasing the government of Myanmar’s budget allocation and spending in social sector (including Health, Education and Social Protection) and increasing transparency in budget management.
U Maung Maung Swe, Chairman of Population and Social Development Committee said:
“Today is the first time that we have seen so many Members of Parliament from different committees coming together for an event like this. It is very exciting to see them listening to what civil society organisations have to say.”
There were 22 members of parliament attending the discussion. The NGO Child Rights Working Group (NCRWG) gave presentations on education, health and social protection with data from the field where their member organizations are working in. Currently, only a small portion of the government’s resources is directed towards spending in the social sector, despite it being vital in fulfilling children’s rights to survival, development, protection and participation. Overall, the NCRWG had eight recommendations to Members of Parliament:
- To increase the spending in the social sector
- To allocate budget for “Children”
- To have transparency in budget allocation process
- To consider children and child rights in the budgeting process
- To increase the space for civil society organisation participating in budgeting process
- To exercise transparency in sharing information on “Investment in Children” to the public
- To develop and implement a monitoring system for needs-based budget plan for children
- To release budget report according to national development plan 2012-2015
Daw Aye Aye, Advocacy Capacity Development Manager for the Myanmar Education Consortium, presented the current situation in education sector.She said:
“According to UNESCO, Myanmar Country Report 2009, seven out of ten disabled children have lost their right to education and 62.9% of them are unable to complete primary education.”
U Aung Tun Thar, a member of the Arakan National Party said:
“I have seen there are some improvement in budgeting after Parliament was established. The dropout rate is decreasing because the Ministry of Education (MOE) supports basic education. But there are some gaps that need to be filled. More schools are needed at the township level. There is lack of school facilities and teaching aids for quality learning environments in Rakhine State. And the quality of teachers also needs improvement.
He went on: “From my experience working as a township education officer, teachers don’t understand the term “Child Centered Approach” and are still using the traditional way of teaching in which students are required to memorize everything for an exam. So I suggest that the government should provide proper teacher training regularly.
U Tin Maung Oo, Secretary of Public Affairs Committee, commented:
“It is very good that members of parliament are stepping up as a middle man between the government and public.”
he added: “I know there are some difficulties for NGOs and civil society organisations implementing in the field, especially when dealing with local administration process. So, we should continue to cooperate in the future. We will hold such kind of discussion in future as well.”