Aung San Suu Kyi calls for help from UK universities

Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi has called on British universities to help remedy the suppression of Burmese universities by the nation’s former military regime

May 9, 2013

Source: Htoo Tay Zar

The Burmese opposition leader told an event held at the University of London today that there were “no residential universities in Burma”. Campus life had been “destroyed” by the military regime – which ruled Burma between 1962 and 2011 – as it feared gatherings of young people were “dangerous” and would “demand the fall of the government”, she added.

Ms Suu Kyi was speaking, via a specially pre-recorded video message, at a UK-Burma policy dialogue co-hosted by the British Council.

After elections were held in Burma in 2010, a nominally civilian government led by President Thein Sein - who served as a general and then prime minister under the junta - was installed in March 2011.

In 2012 two parliamentary committees were formed, each chaired by Ms Suu Kyi, who leads the opposition National League for Democracy, and tasked with drafting a new law on Burmese higher education, and specifically the revitalisation of the University of Yangon.

In her address, Ms Suu Kyi , a University of Oxford graduate, said: “The focus of the military government was on maintaining discipline, not on providing education.

“Now the standard of our university education has fallen so low that graduates have nothing except a photograph of their graduation ceremony to show for the years they spent at university.”

Higher education reform was about “much more than mere education. It is really part of our efforts to revitalise and reinvigorate our society,” she said.

She continued: “We want to make our academic institutions independent. We want to make them vital and we want to modernise them to be in keeping with the developments of the times.

“The very first thing we need to do…is to recreate campus life. Our young people have not known campus life for decades…Starting with that, we want to provide them with the highest educational standards possible, not just in our region but in the whole world. We have to be ambitious.”

She appealed for help from British universities to aid education reform and help build “a happier human society”.

The policy dialogue was the culmination of a tour of Scottish and English universities by a Burmese delegation, organised by the British Council.

john.morgan@tsleducation.com

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Elderly woman looking up at sky

A recent paper claims that the quality of researchers declines with age. Five senior scientists consider the data and how they’ve contributed through the years

Woman tearing up I can't sign

Schools and universities are increasingly looking at how improving personalities can boost social mobility. But in doing so, they may be forced to choose between teaching what is helpful, and what is true, says David Matthews

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration 19 May 2016

Tim Blackman’s vision of higher education for the 21st century is one in which students of varying abilities learn successfully together

Otto illustration (5 May 2016)

Craig Brandist on the proletarianisation of a profession and how it leads to behaviours that could hobble higher education

Door peephole painted as bomb ready to explode

It’s time to use technology to detect potential threats and worry less about outdated ideas of privacy, says Ron Iphofen