Student march stops for four-party talks

The four-party talks on the National Education Law will be held in Yangon today, according to reports.

The government, Parliament, National Network for Education Reform and students’ Democracy Education Initiative Committee (DEIC) will discuss 11 concessions demanded by the students.

The meeting will decide whether the students' protest march will continue to Yangon.

"We will try to have a thorough discussion. We will decide whether the protesters should march to Yangon on the result of this discussion. We will halt the march for that day, but we need to observe the results," Paing Ye Thu from Dagon University Students' Union and a member of the DEIC said.

A government delegation led by Union Minister Aung Min and 10 student delegates from the DEIC met on January 28 in Nay Pyi Taw and released a joint statement to hold the talks demanded by the students.

Thuta, an assistant lecturer in English at Mandalay Yadanabon University and chairman of Myanmar Teachers Federation, said: "The students have requested an independent education system in their 11 concessions. They didn't ask for anything else. The government must meet their demands. I hope they do. If they don't give in, they will meet with a much bigger protest." 

The 11 concessions include staff and student representation when drawing up education policy; to amend the exam and university entrance systems; to allow students expelled from the universities for their involvement in protests to be allowed to return to their studies and to designate 20 per cent of the country’s overall budget to education.

The students staged a four-day protest in Yangon last November over the law and they gave the government 60 days to meet their demands.

The protests resumed 60 days later after the government failed to give a response. The students left Mandalay on January 20 to march to Yangon and received a warm welcome along the road, pushing the government into offering the meeting.