NUG Minister claims ban on teaching western culture, sex education, social ethics and life skills has been banned by the Military Council

U Aung Myo Min, the Minister of Human Rights for the National Unity Government (NUG), said the Military Council’s recent ban on teaching western democratic culture in private schools is an act of a tyrannical military regime, that fears the spread of democratic values.

Minister U Aung Myo Min explained to KIC, “Dividing democracy into Western and Eastern concepts, can lead to a lack of understanding of what is democracy. Not having the right to teach democracy and social sciences in schools, is the act of military dictators who are afraid of democracy.”

The ban was reportedly issued in an order that surfaced on the internet in the last few days.

On February 17, the Karen State Education Commissioner’s Office sent a notification to the relevant district and township education departments that, after the Ministry of Education drafts and promulgates the private education law, effective action will be taken against the teaching of western democratic culture in private schools in line with the new curriculum on state sector.

According to this notice issued in a meeting held by the State Administration Council (SAC) on January 6, the Department of Education has been tasked with drafting and issuing regulations and laws to prevent and take action against the teaching of unwanted subjects in private schools.

An official who teaches at a private school in Hpa-An Township told KIC, “We haven’t received the instruction letter at our school yet.”

In some schools in Myanmar, at the end of the school year, Myanmar traditional Water Festivals, Education Symposiums, other special days and academic award ceremonies, where there are traditional dance performances and contemporary art performances, some teachers believe that such a ban may be issued for any performance that does not belong to Myanmar culture.

“The teaching of Life Skills has been stopped since last year. They were asked to withdraw the teaching because subjects are not compatible with Myanmar culture. The books were sent back. This course was intended to be suitable for children to learn about sex education and social ethics. I see this statement as a restriction on the freedom of education,” said a high school teacher.

In the 2022-2023 academic year, in the new education system, which is mandated to be taught up to primary, middle and high school, Life Skills subject teaching about sex education and social ethics has been withdrawn by the Military Council, and teachers report that the textbooks for these subjects have been recalled as well.

This latest dictate from the military junta goes way beyond being anti- western .Many governments in the Global South have their criticisms of western culture and US style western democracy, while still respecting the rights of students to receive a broad education. However the Military Council by banning Life Skills, has resorted to an anti- general knowledge curriculum that very few regimes left in the world still practice.

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