Daily News- November 19 - 2002- Tuesday

  • Myanmar's once-revered teachers lose their stature
  • UN Report: Special Envoy visits Myanmar 12-16 November
  • Bangladesh FM to visit Rangoon
  • Thai Air spoils Bangladesh Football team schedule to Burma
  • Burma Rice Project in Algeria to Expand

  • Myanmar's once-revered teachers lose their stature

    CHIANG MAI, Thailand, Nov 18 (AFP) - Teachers in Myanmar who were once accorded great respect are seeing their reputations plummet due to a combination of economic desperation, a purge in ranks and pressure by the ruling military.

    A generation ago Myanmar's citizens equated their schoolteachers with the most senior religious scholars, with monks and parents, and in rare instances placed them on par with the Buddha himself. Trust in them was absolute.

    But teachers from Yangon to Mandalay and beyond are finding their cherished role as keeper of the moral faith has eroded into that of the huckster, a peddler of knowledge whose price is beyond the means of most families, say exiles monitoring the country's creaking education system.

    "The image of teachers is getting worse now, ever since the regime took power after a bloody military crackdown on the student-led pro-democracy movement of 1988," Myanmar teacher Cherry Lulu told AFP.A former senior faculty member at Yangon's Teacher Training College who fled to Thailand in the mid-90s, Lulu points to a raft of events and conditions which have led to a crumbling of respect.

    The ruling military junta has blamed teachers for the nationwide crisis of 1988, in which student demonstrations were violently suppressed, leading to many deaths.In the aftermath the junta sacked hundreds and perhaps thousands of teachers who refused to inform on their students' activities, Lulu said.

    Those who admitted under interrogation to supporting pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi or a multi-party system were transferred upcountry, or to areas near the front line of armed ethnic insurgency.

    To avoid such fates several of the more than 200,000 faculty members in Myanmar are kowtowing to the often rigorous and exploitative demands of the junta, which are said to include excessive public displays of homage and large bribes for even the most basic teaching posts.

    "I knew the life of Myanmar teachers very well," Lulu said. "Now they're lives are difficult, and salaries are low, and they are teaching privately to make money."

    Official salaries have plummeted in real terms, teachers say.The headmaster at a standard government high school earns 12,000 Myanmar kyat per month -- about 10 dollars on today's widely used black market. Teachers earn just 4,500 kyat.

    "How can they survive on that amount?" Lulu asked.They can't, and so teachers are forced onto the slippery slope of private tutoring, a practice illegal in Myanmar but common in virtually every school district, particularly in Yangon and Mandalay, teachers say.

    Newly exiled teacher Wyne Win said students from poor families were the ultimate losers. Teachers have taken to leaving out key parts of curricula, only to teach them later in private tutorials that cost anywhere from 3,000 to 20,000 kyat per month.

    Briberies for good examination marks are de riguer. Competition for the few thousand annual spots in Myanmar's frequently shuttered universities leads to further exploitation.

    "Their efforts to afford the skyrocketing commodity prices while maintaining good relations with their military rulers are damaging the integrity of teachers," said Wyne Win, who left Myanmar two months ago.

    Another problem tarnishing the image of educators is a requirement that they pay homage in public to members of the junta and officials in military attire.In the past teachers were the recipients of such gestures, usually a bow and a clasping together of hands at the chest, by all segments of society.

    But the tables have turned at the order of the junta, and "now teachers pay respect to military leaders," Wyne Win said.

    Relations between the government and the education system have been strained for decades in Myanmar.The All Burma Students Union emerged in the 1930s to oppose British rule, and spawned the country's modern- day figurehead, General Aung San, and other national heroes.Its student union building, where teachers and students gathered to discuss political issues, was destroyed by Ne Win's military government in July 1962, and the union was outlawed.

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    UN Report: Special Envoy visits Myanmar 12-16 November

    Source : UN News

    Razali Ismail, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Myanmar, visited Yangon from 12 to 16 November for his ninth mission to facilitate the national reconciliation process in that country.

    During his stay in Yangon, Mr. Razali met with Senior General Than Shwe, the Prime Minister of Myanmar, and the Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), General Khin Nyunt, Secretary-1 in the SPDC, and other Government leaders. Separately, Mr. Razali met with the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi, and with the members of the NLD Central Executive Committee. Additionally, he met with the representatives of the Committee Representing the People's Parliament (CRPP), the United Nationalities Alliance (UNA), and the National Unity Party (NUP).

    Mr. Razali continues to believe that dialogue on substantive issues is essential if a lasting and durable national reconciliation in Myanmar is to be achieved. He urged the Government and the NLD to maximize and develop the existing channel of discussion in order to bring such a dialogue about. The Special Envoy indicated to the Government that it should take steps to reconvene the National Convention in a manner acceptable to all parties committed to the national reconciliation process. He made a similar appeal to the NLD and the representatives of Myanmar's other political parties. Mr. Razali also reiterated his call for the Government to release at one time a very substantive number of political prisoners by the end of 2002.

    The Special Envoy remains committed to helping to facilitate national reconciliation and democratization in Myanmar. He intends to return to Myanmar early next year to assess developments.

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    Bangladesh FM to visit Rangoon

    Source : The Independent (Bangladesh)

    Bangladesh Foreign Minister M. Morshed Khan leaves Dhaka tomorrow (Wednesday) for Rangoon on a three-day official visit to Burma.

    According to Foreign Ministry source, Morshed Khan will hold official talks with his Burmese counterpart U Win Aung and discuss bilateral matters.

    Foreign Minister will also discuss about Burma Prime Minister Senior General Than Shwe’s proposed visit to Bangladesh in the third week of next month.

    The date of Senior General Than Shwe’s visit to Bangladesh is likely to be finalised during the official talks of the two foreign ministers in Rangoon, said a spokesman of Burmese Embassy in Dhaka last night.

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    Thai Air spoils Bangladesh Football team schedule to Burma

    Source : The Daily Star(Bangladesh)

    In a late development yesterday, the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) had to change its plan and send the national team to Rangoon one day ahead of the schedule.

    The 23-member Bangladesh national football team was scheduled to fly off to Rangoon tomorrow via Bangkok, but the Thai Airways failed to confirm the tickets in time, forcing BFF to go for Singapore Airlines.

    The booters will now leave the country for Burma tonight to play couple of friendly matches against Burma in Rangoon on November 22 and 24. They are expected to reach Rangoon tomorrow morning after a five-hour stopover at the Singapore Airport.

    The BFF has arranged this six-day tour as part of the national team's build-up to the forthcoming South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship, starting in Dhaka from January 10.

    The unexpected change in flight schedule however forced BFF to drop their plan for playing a few more practice matches in Bangkok while returning home through Thai Airways from Rangoon.

    Coach George Kottan however remains happy with the fact that his charges will at least play two practice matches against Burma, who are also preparing for next month's Tiger (ASEAN) Cup to be held in Jakarta.

    "This two matches will help me find a good combination. In fact, every nation plays such matches before finalising their playing eleven for any tournament," said Kottan while talking to The Daily Star over his cell phone yesterday.

    "Myanmar is a powerful team. Hopefully these matches will help us build up a good understanding," added Kottan.

    He also informed that each of the 23 players were physically all right for the trip.

    Meanwhile, the BFF has announced a monthly salary of Taka ten thousand for each of the 23 national footballers for next three months with effect from November.

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    Burma Rice Project in Algeria to Expand

    Source : www.allafrica.com

    THE Burma rice project in Bayelsa State of Algeria is to be expanded to cover the three senatorial distracts of the state to enhance and achieve self sufficiency in rice production.

    Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha gave the indication while presenting samples of the Burma rice to the public in Yenagoa. According to him, the presentation of the rice was the result of an industrial partnership agreement between the Nigeria Agip Oil Company and the state government brokered last year. The governor reiterated the objective of the joint venture which is to provide food for the teeming populace in the state and earn foreign exchange through export.

    Government is determined to turn the state agricultural sub-sector around and this has led to the resuscitation of six abandoned farms in the state and the capitalisation of the school-to-land project which is expected to train young farmers on new farming techniques," he pointed out. "There is also a renewed interest in large-scale fish farming since we believe that agriculture is the hope for the survival of the polity," he added.

    He asked oil companies operating in the state to embark on projects such as the Burma rice project as a way of enhancing the cordial relationship between them and their host communities. The governor directed the state agric ministry to liaise with the Nigeria Agip Oil Company to establish pilot schemes in each senatorial district as a prelude to having the farms across the state.

    He therefore called on the people of the state to patronise the Burma rice which is indigenous to the state as a way of encouraging the project.

    Earlier, the state commissioner for agriculture and natural resources, Mr Nimi Damblo had stated that agriculture was the bedrock of every development noting that other indices of development are meaningless.

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