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Human rights and education

Individual Documents

Title: Burma Human Rights Yearbook 2008 - Chapter 15: Right to Education
Date of publication: 23 November 2009
Description/subject: "A strong education system has long been seen as the standard pre-requisite of overall national progress for both developed and developing nations. A country populated with educated citizens generally results in economic growth, innovation, public health and often a political system that voices the concerns and needs of its people. To all outward appearances, the SPDC has made legitimate attempts to position itself as a patron of education for all. In reality, this position amounts to little more than an elaborate show performed for an international audience. The disparity between government propaganda and the actual goals of the Burmese education system is striking. The vision of the Ministry of Education is stated to be, “To create an education system that can generate a learning society capable of facing the challenges of the Knowledge Age.” 1 In October 2008, the state-run New Light of Myanmar ran an editorial emphasizing the importance of teachers providing an all-around developmental experience, stating that teachers should “train and inculcate the students with knowledge, education and skill as well as with the habit of helping and understanding others and observing ethics and morality.” 2 Despite these lofty pronouncements, the SPDC treats the education system as something to be feared, watching closely as primary school students—when given an opportunity—grow into university students, who have proven to be some of the government’s most vocal protesters and opponents. In light of this culture of paranoia and suspicion, the SPDC has erected multiple barriers to accessing education. In addition to these obstacles, and despite legislation ensuring free and compulsory primary education, attending school is often an extravagance families struggle to afford. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, while enrolment is high at 80%, less than 55% of enrolled students complete the primary cycle.3 With this high drop-out rate, the number of children left without significant skills increases, leaving them highly vulnerable to various exploitive trades, such as forced labour, forced conscription into the army or the sex trade. An almost complete lack of free speech and expression results in an environment in which rote learning is standard, and critical thinking is highly discouraged. If a student manages to successfully reach the university level, he or she incurs a new level of restrictions from the junta. University students and their teachers are feared most of all; as a group, they represent the future of democracy and freedom to their families and the world. Despite these significant hurdles, the Burmese culture highly values education and parents place great importance on sending their children to school. The struggle for these families is in overcoming the junta’s roadblocks in order to achieve their educational goals..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Human Rights Docmentation Unit (HRDU)
Format/size: pdf (547K)
Date of entry/update: 06 December 2009


Title: Burma Human Rights Yearbook 2007: Right to Education
Date of publication: 09 September 2008
Description/subject: "...The Burmese education sector is plagued by a severe lack of resources, stemming from an extremely small allocation of the national budget, which according to the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) Human Development Report, amounts to only 1.3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). [1] Meanwhile, the SPDC maintains that 8.9 percent of the national budget is earmarked for education, although this figure is little more that a gross misrepresentation of reality. [2] However, such a small budget allocation is hardly surprising given the regime’s stated belief that the sole purpose of education is to “nurture children to develop their mind, vision and living styles in accord with the wishes of the State”. [3] In other words, the aim of education is to indoctrinate the nation’s children to develop a sense of obedience to the SPDC while crushing all views which may be deemed to run contrary to those of the State. The education sector is also beset by widespread and rampant corruption from military officers, civil officials and even the teachers. Compounding such an insufficient allocation of public funds to the sector are the misguided and egregious economic policies which have impoverished much of the population to the point where many must struggle just to acquire enough food, let alone pay for the rising costs of education..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Human Rights Documentation Unit of the NCGUB (HRDU)
Format/size: html, pdf
Date of entry/update: 20 December 2008


Title: Burma Human Rights Yearbook 2006: 12. Chapter 9: Rights to Education and Health
Date of publication: 25 June 2007
Description/subject: Background... Situation of Education; Corruption and Extortion in the Education System; Primary Education; Secondary Education; Tertiary Education; Disparity between Civilian and Military Education; Educational Opportunities for Ethnic Minorities... Situation of Health: Access to Healthcare; HIV/AIDS; Avian Influenza; Malaria; Dengue Fever; Tuberculosis; Diarrhoea; Cholera; Typhoid; Lymphatic filariasis; Polio; Measles; Foot and Mouth Disease; Support for People with Disabilities; International Humanitarian Aid.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Human Rights Documentation Unit of the NCGUB (HRDU)
Format/size: pdf (368K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs4/HRDU2006.pdf
Date of entry/update: 13 July 2007


Title: Burma Human Rights Yearbook 2006: Rights to Education and Health
Date of publication: June 2007
Description/subject: "...the education system is so poor that illiteracy levels in rural areas are actually rising. These figures are hardly surprising considering that the SPDC spends only US$1 per person per year on health and education combined...While the state of the education system may not threaten Burma's neighbours, it certainly threatens Burma's future. Current estimates from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) are that almost fifty percent of children are forced to drop out of primary school because of financial difficulties. With enrolment levels estimated at approximately fifty percent to begin with this leaves a population where only a quarter have completed primary education. On paper the SPDC complies with international standards and has enacted legislation stipulating that primary school is both free and compulsory but the situation on the ground is quite another story. Secondary education has become the preserve of the rich and those who do make it to university enter a system which is openly repressive. Ethnic minorities fare especially badly in respect of both health and education. Indigenous languages are prohibited, healthcare is barely minimal and human rights violations are routine..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Human Rights Documentation Unit of the NCGUB
Format/size: pdf (60K)
Date of entry/update: 06 April 2008


Title: Burma Human Rights Yearbook 2005: Rights to Education and Health
Date of publication: July 2006
Description/subject: "...Rampant corruption, a lack of transparency, and severe economic mismanagement has resulted in a steady decline in education and increasingly poor healthcare in Burma. Due to widespread poverty, coupled with an appallingly low expenditure on public welfare, only an elite few are able to receive basic healthcare services or achieve a moderate level of education. Moreover, junta sponsored corruption in these sectors acts to further devalue the academic competency and the quality of healthcare. Burma remains one of the most isolated countries with one of the lowest standards of living and poorest healthcare records in the developing world. The SPDC continues to fall short of fulfilling its obligations under international human rights law in respect to the rights to health and education. Plans and programs for reform in these sectors have failed to improve conditions. Meanwhile, the junta continues to arbitrarily shut down schools and implement policies that lower rather than raise the standard of living and quality of life throughout the country. Although there have been reports of increased regime cooperation and a willingness to engage with some UN agencies and NGOs, genuine progress in the field of health and education remains marginal. Since 1990, the junta�s expenditure on social sector services has steadily declined. According to the British government�s Department for International Development, Burma has the lowest level of public investment in health and education services vis-Ã -vis military spending than any other ASEAN nation. Between 1992 and 2003, the SPDC allocated 29 percent of the central budget to defense. Meanwhile only eight percent went towards education and healthcare combined. Published budget figures show that per capita spending on the military is nine times higher than that of health services and twice that of education services..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Human Rights Documentation Unit of the NCGUB
Format/size: pdf, html
Alternate URLs: http://www.ncgub.net/staticpages/index.php/HYB_2005
Date of entry/update: 19 September 2010


Title: Burma Human Rights Yearbook 2003-2004: Rights to Education and Health
Date of publication: November 2004
Description/subject: Government Spending on Health and Education; Situation of Education: Adult Illiteracy; High School Education; University Education; Disparity between Civilian and Military Education; Universities Supported by the Military; Access to IT Education; Updates on Education...Situation of Health: Access to Health Care; Malnutrition; Access to Clean Water and Sanitation; Malaria; Tuberculosis; HIV/AIDS; Mental Health; Support for People with Disabilities; International Humanitarian Aid...Personal Accounts: Personal Accounts Related to Heath - High cost of medical care in Mon State... Personal Accouts Related to Education - Excessive fees for primary education; The miserable conditions of Mandalay university students;
Language: English
Source/publisher: Human Rights Documentaqtion Unit of the NCGUB
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 27 May 2005


Title: Burma Human Rights Yearbook 2002-03: Rights to Education and Health
Date of publication: October 2003
Description/subject: "Burma has one of the poorest health records and lowest standards of living in the developing world. Health and education are given incredibly low priorities in the national budget, and lip-service to these issues often takes the place of substantial reforms or programs. The root causes of problems in these arenas, such as the affects of landmines and forced labor on health and the effect of school closings and censorship on education, are not dealt with in meaningful ways because of political considerations. Low salaries and lack of transparent and effective supervision has made it easy for corruption to flourish among medical personnel and educators. Patients more often than not have to pay a bribe to be seen by a doctor, get a bed in a hospital or receive essential medicine. Primary school students can pay to receive better grades or get private tutoring from their teachers. Higher education in Burma is particularly substandard with students, during those times that the universities are actually open, being given rush degrees in order to prevent any political opposition to the military regime from springing up on college campuses. The political situation in Burma has a direct impact on the poor quality of education and healthcare available to the general public. The level of access a person has to health and education infrastructure depends on economic level, geographical location and individual, family or ethnic group relations with the military regime. For example, a Burmese military officer and his family living in Rangoon have access to education and medical treatment that are unavailable to a family that is part of an ethnic and religious minority group living in a conflict area on the border. As yet, the military regime has been unwilling to address these inequalities to ensure that all people living in Burma, regardless of their ethnic group, religion, political affiliation, economic status or geographical location have access to adequate health care and education. (For more information about the health and education situations of specific populations such as refugees, women, children, political prisoners and IDPs, please see appropriate chapters)..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Human Rights Documentation Unit, NCGUB
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 10 November 2003


Title: Burma Human Rights Yearbook 2001-2002: Rights to Education and Health
Date of publication: September 2002
Description/subject: "...Burma has one of the poorest health records and lowest standards of living in the developing world. Health and education are given incredibly low priorities in the national budget, and lip-service to these issues often take the place of substantial reforms or programs. Because of political considerations the root causes of problems in these arenas, such as the affects of landmines and forced labor on health and the effect of school closings and censorship on education, are not dealt with in meaningful ways. Low salaries and lack of transparent and effective supervision has made it easy for corruption to flourish among medical personnel and educators. Patients more often than not have to pay a bribe to be seen by a doctor, get a bed in a hospital, or receive essential medicine. Primary school students can pay to receive better grades or get private tutoring from their teachers. Higher education in Burma is particularly substandard with students, during those times that the universities are actually open, being given rush degrees in order to prevent any political opposition to the military regime to spring up on college campuses..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Human Rights Documentation Unit, NCGUB
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Burma Human Rights Yearbook 2000: Rights of Education and Health
Date of publication: October 2001
Description/subject: "...Burma has one of the poorest health records and lowest standards of living in the developing world. The desire of the military government to hold on to power at any cost has meant that human rights, including the rights to health and education, are given scant attention in comparison to political and security issues. Health and education are given incredibly low priorities in the national budget, and lip-service to these issues often take the place of substantial reforms or programs. Because of political considerations the root causes of problems in these arenas, such as the affects of landmines and forced labor on health and the effect of school closings and censorship on education, are not dealt with in meaningful ways..."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Human Rights Documentation Unit, NCGUB
Format/size: html
Alternate URLs: Main page of the Yearbook: http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/yearbooks/Main.htm
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: "Our Heads are Bloody But Unbowed": Suppression of Educational Freedoms in Burma
Date of publication: 10 December 1992
Description/subject: In June 1990 another important student leader, Min Zeya, chairman of the smaller All Burma Students Democratic Association, was reportedly sentenced to eight years in jail. With the colleges now shut, the SLORC sent university and regional college teachers away on boot camp "re-education" courses at Phaunggyi, organized by the Military Intelligence Service. A standardized system of education was also introduced under the 1966 Basic Education Law and the 1973 Union of Burma Education Law.
Language: English
Source/publisher: Article 19 (Censorship News No. 18)
Format/size: pdf (131K)
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003


Title: Lway Chee Sangar: Reclaiming Rights After a Childhood of Labor, Hardship, and Conflict
Description/subject: "“We had never heard about human rights in the village,” Lway Chee Sangar tells me at the Palaung Women’s Organization (PWO) office in Mae Sot, Thailand. Sangar is 23 years old. The ethnic nationality group to which she belongs, called the Palaung or Ta’ang, has been caught in an armed struggle for self-determination against the brutal Burmese regime for the better part of the past five decades. Sangar began working with the PWO about three years ago when her parents, desperate to give her an opportunity to improve her life, sent her from their tiny, remote village in the northern Shan State of Burma to the PWO’s former training center in China. It took her a combined six months of training at the PWO to begin to grasp the idea that all humans have rights. Sangar’s story is speckled with brushes with conflict, starting from her birth. She was born on the run, when her parents had to flee their village due to an outbreak of fighting nearby. Today, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the armed wing of the Palaung State Liberation Front, is fighting off Burmese offensives and combatting opium cultivation in Palaung areas, according to their statement. Civilians are often caught in the cross-fire. Burmese forces have been known to use brutal tactics against civilians in conflict areas, including deadly forced portering and forced labor, torture, killing, and extortion of money, supplies, and drugs."
Language: English
Source/publisher: Burma Link
Format/size: pdf
Date of entry/update: 18 March 2016


Title: Right to Education
Description/subject: Link to the corresponding area in the OBL Human Rights section
Language: English
Source/publisher: Online Burma/Myanmar Library
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 29 September 2014