“Many enthusiastic students are making innovative attempts for their related fields and I think it indicates a good prospect for our country’s future,” a remark by an officer of YU Open Political Society, a student-led organization of the University of Yangon.
As far as student-led clubs and organizations are concerned, Myanmar was not able to efficiently procure them for about three decades.
The number of student-led clubs has rapidly increased only in the last four years. The reason for such development can be traced back to the recent waves of democratic transition, removing the hampers that previously held students from being actively involved in their communities. Despite the aforementioned favorable changes, the establishment of student-led clubs and organizations could only be possible with, none other than, the efforts of students.
Many founders and organizers share a similar story of how these clubs and organizations have become to exist; they all believe in the power of the youth and that these student associations can help provide the needs of the public. Without a doubt, these clubs have been fairly successful in fulfilling their purposes. Not only are they representing the diverse interests of the student body, but also promoting cooperation and engagement among young people of Myanmar with almost every student-led club having joint activities either of the same or different universities.
Take these stories from YU Open Political Society (YUOPS), Yangon University’s Volunteers Club (YUVC), and Dagon University Law Student Association (DULSA) as examples.
Raising of political awareness by YU Open Political Society (YUOPS)
“I believe in the power of youth and Aristotle’s saying, ‘man is by nature political animal’ which means no one can stay apart from politics.”
- Chan Myae Hsu, Chief Executive Officer of YUOPS
YUOPS with guest speaker Ko Aung Khant, candidate for 2019 Yangon City Development Committee (YUDC) election,
after the sharing session of his experiences with YCDC.
Photo source: YUOPS
YUOPS aims to share political awareness among the youths, beyond the frame. While its preparations were rooted in 2015, YUOPS was officially established in November 2016.
The officers of YUOPS, were among the organizers of the Model Union Peace Conference Myanmar 2018, the very first nationwide model Union Peace Conference throughout the history of Myanmar.
Additionally, YUOPS collaborated with other orgs like Mr. History, Youth Development Society and Yangon Debate League. On top of that, YUOPS also organized Federalism Academy in collaboration with Hanns Seidel Foundation and Centre of Development for Ethnic Studies.
Since its founding, YUOPS has been organizing weekly activities every Wednesday for two months per semester. Currently, YUOPS is holding a talk series, Comparing domestic and international politics, which will run for 9 weeks. Furthermore, there are also plans to make research on the upcoming 2020 Myanmar general election.
Keeping the volunteerism spirit alive with Yangon University’s Volunteers Club (YUVC)
“Volunteer clubs such as YUVC are necessary these days to encourage students' enthusiasm towards volunteering, as well as to help both private and public organizations.”
- Myat Thein Mwae Bo, founder, and advisor of YUVC
YUVC at Change-mania: Footsteps Towards Sustainable Peace and Environment
Photo source: YUVC
YUVC intends to make a difference in society by inspiring university students to have voluntary spirits and by raising public awareness on environmental protection. YUVC had its very first activity in January 2017.
It was just a month after the establishment that YUVC received over 100 member registration forms from all different majors of Yangon University; an indicator of how young people these days have much enthusiasm to benefit the community. YUVC also organized a remarkable workshop on Peace and Environment in collaboration with International Peace Youth Group (IPYG) and MasterPeace Myanmar Club on 15th July 2018, titled “Change-mania: Footsteps Towards Sustainable Peace and Environment”.
Furthermore, YUVC collaborated with many other organizations and student-led clubs including YCDC, Institut De Francais (IFB), MMTutors, Htar Wa Ya Alinn Eain, Doh Eain, Edulink, University of Yangon Red Cross Branch, University Students Blood Donors Group, and Volunteers Team of East Yangon University (EYU) and West Yangon University (WYU).
Concerning future endeavors, YUVC has already scheduled for YUVC's 3rd Birthday, plant donation, four months-long Storytelling seminars, and community cleaning projects.
Mainstreaming law knowledge with Dagon University Law Students' Association (DULSA)
“We would like the students to participate or have an interest in what we are doing because being a law student is more than sitting in a classroom listening and studying law.”
- Min Khant Hmu, President of DULSA
The last Governing Council Meeting and Ratification Process of DUYP
Photo source: DULSA
Dagon University Law Students' Association (DULSA), founded in December 2015, is one of the pioneer organizations, extending to universities around Myanmar to promote legal knowledge and other supplementary skills of university students. It was established as a stepping stone in initiating Asian Law Students' Association Myanmar (ALSA Myanmar), an association that can represent the whole country.
In terms of its goals and objectives, DULSA functions primarily, (a) To understand and appreciate the diversity and share the ideals of law in society through exchange and communication among Myanmar law students; (b) To motivate a creative spirit through a network of joint activities with other universities in Myanmar and abroad; (c) To encourage the enhancement of the capabilities of Myanmar Law students so as to become internationally minded, socially responsible, academically committed and legally skilled.
Along with normal weekly discussions, DULSA is most well known for Dagon University Youth Parliament (DUYP). DUYP is a model simulation meeting that brings many students together to play out the roles of eight ethnic groups of Myanmar. It was also DULSA that has successfully arranged the Dagon University Moot Court Competition (DUMCC).
On top of that, DULSA also organized Clinical Legal Education (CLE), a program held to promote legal awareness among local communities targeting students and youths. DULSA is now working on the preparations for the 4th DUYP and the 2nd DUMCC.
Indeed, it is essential for a country to invest in the youth. Giving a platform that can harness their full potential can not just benefit the students, but the whole country as well.