Story for the Special Initiative “Living the Coup: Collective Diary of Daily Life in Myanmar” by SEA Junction and Partners.
|Education in the Eyes of a High School Student
I am 17 years old and I live in ******. I am the president of the ***** Basic Education Student Union. Because the education we have been receiving is designed by the military dictatorship to spawn slaves to the military itself. Its under-democratic nature and the intermingled existence of distorted “facts” and discrimination within it have pushed us to boycott this military slave education. One more reason we are boycotting it is that the military dictatorship has murdered thousands of students and has reopened schools and universities to make the wheels of their bureaucracy turn. We will not be going to school through the very doors open by bloodstained hands.
My parents being, well, parents, they forbade me from doing anything remotely related to the Revolution out of concern for my safety. They even went to such extreme lengths as closing down all the doors in the house, confiscating my phone, keeping me under watch 24 hours a day. But my burning desire to revolt pushed me to run away from home, jumping over the fence and everything. From then my family members had no choice but to let me be. I am participating CDM (civil disobedient moment) as a high school student according to my morals and beliefs, under no one’s guardianship but my own.
Before the coup, I intended to work hard to pass the matriculation exam with excellent grades so that I can study political science at university, which is the subject I am passionate about. And then I will do politics, the kind that will enable my country to have peace, prosperity, and justice.
My future education should be a democratic one that follows 3 visions of 1) being free from foreign influence, 2) being representatives of the people and 3) being scientific. We will try to establish an education that respects and protects the traditions, cultures, and literature of different ethnicity. I will see to it that my education is one supported by true academic freedom and democracy.
Rather than interim education, I am focusing on education that installs the revolutionary spirit in people. Since this is a revolutionary era, education itself should also be revolutionary. To shape this revolutionary education, we are spreading the history of students, worker, and farmer moments and the evolution of revolution among students. Since I am a Basic education Student Union comrade, I am especially trying to learn the history and sacrifices of basic education students throughout history.
The difference between education pre- and post-coup is the former education is military slave education, and the latter is revolutionary education. Military slave education is one expressly tailored to the agenda of military dictatorship, whilst revolutionary education is one that unearths and spreads true facts from history and nurtures rebellious sprits that revolt against injustices.
The biggest difficulty as a high school student taking part in the revolution is asserting my own agency to my family. Most high school students in Burma are under the guardianship of their parents. And so the family conflicts that arise from speaking up against your parents who want us to be safe are the greatest setback for a high schooler rebel.
Another thing is people’s reluctance to heed our voices in political action just because we are high school students. When protests began to form in my town after the coup, I wanted to connect with the strike committees and lead the people. But none took me seriously because I was an underage student. Another incident is that two, three days after the coup, university students from my region were still believing in the no-protesting-for-72-hours propaganda (which convinced the majority that if the SAC could not justify the coup defeat within 72 hours it would be automatically nullified. But if there were protests/riots on the streets, it would conveniently give the SAC the justification they were searching for, i.e., the coup was to restore peace which had been disrupted by the angry masses.) When I went to them and urged them to organize mass strikes, they discriminated against me to break my rebellious spirit, attacking me by saying, “You are just a kid who knows nothing about politics. Even university students like us who are experienced are sitting tight” etc. But my revolutionary spirit was not reduced in the slightest because of those words.
This story was published in “From our Place to the Front Line” project initiated by a group of undergraduate students from Fulbright University Vietnam and Yangon University (UYSU). The stories they collected highlights the extreme violence in Myanmar, which has not been fully covered by international media. Their information can be found here and Facebook
“Living the Coup: Collective Diary of Daily Life in Myanmar” is a special initiative of SEA Junction in collaboration with Asia Justice Rights (AJAR) to document how people are living in present-day Myanmar and their coping with daily security, economic and health challenges. We are asking for short stories in the form of written, photo essays or art illustration, in Burmese Language (to be later translated into English) or in English. For more background and other stories click here.
SEA Junction, established under the Thai non-profit organization Foundation for Southeast Asia Studies (ForSEA), aims to foster understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asia in all its socio-cultural dimensions- from arts and lifestyles to economy and development. Conveniently located at Room 408 of the Bangkok Arts and Culture Center or BACC (across MBK, BTS National Stadium), SEA Junction facilitates public access to knowledge resources and exchanges among students, practitioners and Southeast Asia lovers. For more information see www.seajunction.org, join the Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/1693058870976440/ and follow us on twitter and Instagram @seajunction
Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
AJAR is a non-profit organization, based in Jakarta, Indonesia, whose aim is to contribute to the strengthening of human rights and the alleviation of entrenched impunity in the Asia-Pacific region. Its work focuses on countries involved in transition from a context of mass human rights violations to democracy, where it strives to build cultures based on accountability, justice and a willingness to learn from the root causes of human rights violations to help prevent the recurrence of state-sanctioned human rights violations. For more information, see https://asia-ajar.org.