Luncheon with Australian MPs to discuss: “Education as a tool to achieve peace”

Wednesday, 18 Jan 2017

A delegation of Australian Members of Parliament (MP) is currently visiting Myanmar invited by Save the Children Australia. During the visit, they will engage with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), International NGOs, and key Ministers from the Myanmar Government.

In this framework, it has been an honor for the Myanmar Education Consortium (MEC) to facilitate a luncheon with the delegates at Zephyr Restaurant, Sein Lann So Pyay Garden in Yangon on 16 Jan. The discussion intended to shed light on the complexities surrounding the role of education in the peace process, but also the opportunities that can come from it. The discussion facilitated by Daw Aye Aye, MEC Advocacy Manager has been possible thanks to the active and generous participation of three guest speakers.

Daw Aye Aye Htun, Pyoe Pin Education Consultant, underlined the complexities and opportunities of discussing education in the peace process. She pointed out that education offers a common ground to seek partial agreements on specific issues that would benefit all children, thus offering a common ground and an opportunity to achieve peace. This is the reason why it would be important that discussions around Ethnic education recognition would start before the peace dialogue is concluded and that Peace should be included in the development of the legal and policy framework for education.

Dr. Thein Lwin, Chairman of the National Network for Education Reform (NNER) focused on the role of Civil Society in promoting education for peace and mentioned how Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) often have sound solutions and knowledge that can be a great resource in the education reform process. Government should ensure a meaningful participation of CSOs, including students’ and teachers’ unions, not only to make sure there is a broad acceptance of the reform, but also to take advantage of their knowledge and competences in shaping it.

Finally, Sai Sam Kham, Executive Director of Metta Development Foundation, highlighted the challenges of the democratization process and the role of education. The intervention has been part of a very engaging dialogue with all the delegates that acknowledged that Myanmar is currently undergoing a process of nation building that is by nature very complex. Education can play an important role in shaping a common identity, but could also harm the process if perceived as partisan. For this reason, education should be used as a tool to celebrate diversities and different cultures with the view of achieving a common dream. A dream that could be shaped around democracy, federalism and freedom, by all the groups and peoples living in the country.

The discussion has been a good opportunity for the delegates to deepen their knowledge on the education sector and the peace process in Myanmar. After the meetings in Yangon the delegation proceeded to Nayi Piy Taw and will continue to Rakhine state.

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