Yangon minister heads back to school
IT’S back to school for the Yangon Region minister for social affairs, who for years had been prevented from completing his studies as punishment for his activism against the junta government.
A professor of Dagon University said U Naing Ngan Lin, 39, has enrolled in a three-year program at the school to obtain a bachelor’s of science in mathematics, with an expected graduation in 2018.
The regional minister was forced out of university two years into his studies in 2007, when he participated in the Saffron Revolution.
“Distance math students must attend class every Saturday and Sunday. He also is attending the class every weekend. We also are teaching practical lessons on the weekend,” said the Dagon University professor.
Following his participation in the Saffron Revolution, U Naing Ngan Lin was arrested in 2008 and spent two months in prison. In 2006, he had graduated with an “e-diploma” in political science from the Britainbased Open University, an institution specialising in distance learning.
Former Yangon Region MP Daw Nyo Nyo Thin, who is also a member of the National Network for Education Reform (NNER), said the minister was an example of the lifelong nature of education.
“I think some [other] MPs are also continuing their learning at university in order to graduate,” she said.
U Naing Ngan Lin shot to prominence during last year’s election campaign when he was severely injured by a sword-wielding attacker at the end of October. He required multiple operations on his badly lacerated hands and sustained a concussion but made it back to the campaign circuit on November 4, just days before the vote.
U Naing Ngan Lin declined to comment on his ongoing education.
Following the largely student-led popular uprising of 1988, Myanmar’s former military regime moved to depopulate university campuses – viewed as hotbeds for dissent – and funnel matriculating high-school students into distance-learning programs instead. One 2012 study estimated that 60 percent of higher education degree holders obtained their education via distance learning.