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Adapting our curriculum to a changing Burma
by Eliza Costello
Here at the EarthRights School Burma, we’re constantly adapting our curriculum to match the evolving situation in Burma. In the past year, ERSB has made some significant changes to the material in order to better equip students with the skills and knowledge to become powerful earth rights advocates for Burma.
Our government class now focuses more on free and fair elections, and includes greater discussion of the students’ experience with past elections. There will also be a greater emphasis on transitions to democracy, where the students will look at recent case studies and use the concepts they learn to analyze what is now happening in Burma.
A greater emphasis will be put on civil society’s ability to influence change. Students will not only share their own experiences with advocacy strategies and their successes, but they will also have the opportunity to examine the recent successful campaigns to stop the Myitsone Dam in Kachin State and the coal-fired power plant in Dawei. They will also become familiar with large development projects still underway in Burma, such as the Shwe oil and natural gas pipelines.
With Burma scheduled to become the ASEAN chair in 2014, our human rights class will delve deeper into regional legal institutions within ASEAN, like the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights. We will also bring in local experts to discuss their experiences conducting human rights documentation.
This year the students will use their reports for advocacy purposes because, while the recent changes in Burma have been positive, it is important to remind people that there are still ongoing earth rights abuses occurring throughout the country. Many of our students are from ethnic areas that have yet to see significant change, where human rights violations and environmental destruction are still common.