The Union Parliament has approved the bill to amend the National Education Law and Upper House Bill Committee chairman Khin Maung Yi urged students to continue to call for amendments if the law is passed without meeting their demands.
After the Upper House approved the bill to amend the law, the Lower House amended 45 provisions. The Upper House approved 21 out of 45 provisions that were amended by the Lower House with some small terminological changes while the original meanings remain intact. But there was a conflict between the two houses over the remaining 24 provisions.
“We cannot concede to these 24 provisions. We can’t change our stand. That’s why we – the Upper House Bill Committee – stood on behalf of the Upper House. Winning or losing this … the Parliament has been formed with a 2:1 ratio – 440 for the Lower House and 224 for the Upper House – so we knew we were going to lose. So why did we submit this even though we were going to lose? Because we can’t ignore our pledge and duty,” said Khin Maung Yi.
Alterations to the bill include the removal of the word “union”, changing the phrase “experts without backing” to “experts”, removal of the inclusion of non-civil servants selected by the teaching and student unions in the formation of a National Education Policy Commission. The aim to have the education budget reach 20 per cent of the national budget was also removed.
“The message I want to give to those who disagree is that the main National Education Law has been enacted. Bylaws and laws per section will follow. The Higher Education Law will be released concerning universities. Please discuss this, give your suggestions and make demands at this stage. Make your demands within the law. Charters will be drawn for each university. The university students should discuss this peacefully with democratic methods within the law when it happens,” he continued.
He added that most of the 11 core demands made by the students had not been obtained. The Upper House had decided on 51 points, but only six had been obtained and the rest of the 45 points covered demands made by the students.
There is no comment from students. The bill is subjected to amendments following students’ protests. Some students are still detained for their protest in Letpadan.