University Human Rights Education in Myanmar

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Sarah Knuckey speaks with faculty participants.
Professor Sarah Knuckey speaks with faculty participants during a break. Photo credit: Basam Khawaja.

The Institute for the Study of Human Rights, in collaboration with the universities of Myanmar and with the support of Open Society Foundations, has been working to develop the capacity of junior faculty to promote and engage in human rights education in Myanmar.  The aims of this project are to enable university educators to more effectively teach and incorporate human rights into law and other departmental curricula and research using rights-based approaches.  

Enhanced capacity to teach and promote human rights is essential during this period of transition and this project is part of a larger effort to introduce human rights into the formal education system of Myanmar.

The project began in November 2015. To date, the project’s key elements have included three in-person workshops, two phases of online training, and the hosting of visiting scholars. 

As a result of this training, faculty are not only better equipped with the knowledge and skills to teach human rights, they now have stronger connections to their peers within the university system and to human rights practitioners in their communities.

ISHR welcomed the recent announcement that human rights will be offered as a required course throughout the country.  Faculty members who participated in ISHR’s training are slated to teach this course and will play a pivotal role in advancing human rights education and promoting human rights in Myanmar in the years to come. ISHR will continue to support this promising faculty group as they begin teaching the course in the coming academic year and hopes to further develop their capacities through additional training and ongoing collaboration with law departments and members of civil society.

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Ben Fleming facilitating course session.
Caption: 
Ben Fleming facilitating a session.

Participants & Facilitators

Thirty junior faculty, representing sixteen universities, are participating in this project. Twenty-five are Law faculty and five are International Relations faculty. Twenty-nine of the participants are female, reflecting the fact that most faculty in Myanmar are women.

The University Human Rights Education in Myanmar project was co-developed by Project Director Kristina Eberbach and Project Lead Benedict Fleming. Facilitators also include Columbia University professors Elazar Barkan and Sarah Knuckey as well as Columbia law student Bassam Khawaja.

Click here to read the facilitators' full bios.

Visiting Scholars

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Yupar Nyi Htun (right)
Caption: 
Visiting scholar Yupar Nyi Htun (right) participates in the Spring Workshop. Photo credit: Basam Khawaja.

Three visiting scholars were selected based on the motivation statements submitted by faculty participants and their participation in the online and in-person training components thus far. They participated in ISHR’s Human Rights Advocates Program in the fall 2015 semester. In addition to auditing 1-2 courses, they participated in skills-building and networking meetings, events and trainings.

The three selected were Swe Zin Oo, an assistant lecturer in the Department of Law at the University of Mandalay, Yupar Nyi Htun, both tutors in the Department of Law at East Yangon University, and Kyi Pyar Linn, a tutor in the Department of Law at the University of Yangon.

For questions or more information regarding University Human Rights Education in Myanmar, please email humanrightsed@columbia.edu.