A four-party talk to continue on education bill

Nay Pyi Taw – The four-party talks will continue as only seven points have been agreed despite the students’ demand for a nine-point agreement which must include not to take action against students participating in the protest march.

The four-party talks are aimed at strengthening the national education bill. Before the discussions on eleven points originally demanded by the movement committee for democratic education, the student delegates were urged to primarily discuss a nine-point demand.

The four-party talks on the national education bill were attended by Union Minister Aung Min of the Presidential Office, Union Minister Khin San Yi of the Education Ministry, officials of the Presidential Office and the Ministry of Education, Lower House MPs, Upper House MPs, intelligentsias including Dr Thein Lwin of the National Network for Educational Reform (NNER) and the student delegates of the NNER.

During the first round of discussions, Aung Min said he came here to seek solutions to the 11 points demanded by the students. Then, Khin San Yi submitted an amendment bill on education to the parliament.

At the second round of discussions, student delegate Phyoe Phyoe Aung said primary nine points were to be discussed.

After the talks resumed at noon, the government team led by Aung Min agreed on the first three points of the eleven immediately. Then the words “the students’ league” was hotly debated during the discussions.

The nine points the students demanded are: (1) to issue a joint statement after every talk, (2) to announce the news on matters related to the talk to the public, (3) to enjoy equal rights during the talk, (4) to base the agreement of the student delegates, (5) to recognise the currently-formed students’ leagues and the teachers’ leagues, (6) to allow the students and the teachers to participate in the draft of the education bill, (7) not to take action against anyone who took part in the democratic education protest, (8) to start discussion on the emergence of the by-laws and related laws acceptable to the students and the people regarding the education bill within 30 days and (9) to meet the needs of the students when the parliament approves the education bill.

After several rounds of discussions, a joint statement was issued. Only seven points were agreed and the discussions on two remaining points will continue on February 3.

“The word “league” was hotly debated during the discussions. Reforming the educational system is quite difficult as the government side is against the word usage,” Dr Thein Lwin of the NNER said.

“When the amendment bill is sent to the parliament, we will handle it in line with the rules and regulations of the parliament,” Dr Myat Nyarna Soe, the representative of the Upper House, said.

“The statement already said that the students must stop the protest march on the day of starting the talks. I will take responsibility for the students’ protest march to Popa only. It’s nothing to do with us if the students’ protest march is away from Popa. I’ll intervene personally in this matter because I want the discussions to agree on the remaining two points,” Aung Min said.

According to Nandar Sit Aung of the movement committee for democratic education, if we don’t have any guarantee for democratic education, the students’ protests will continue. We have given the government 30 days to meet our demands in case the talk is prolonged.