Yan­gon min­is­ter heads back to school

The Myanmar Times - - News - YE MON yeemon­tun@mm­times.com

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.

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