Spring University Myanmar signed an MoA with Thailand's Chiang Mai University in August. / SUM
Thailand’s Chiang Mai University has signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Spring University Myanmar (SUM) and will accept 500 students from the country as a priority under a virtual fellowship programme, according to SUM.
Led by educated young people, SUM emerged in May 2021 after the military coup to fill the education gap for students who don’t want to study under the junta’s education system. Its objective is to educate young people to prepare them to participate in a future federal democracy, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education under Myanmar’s parallel civilian National Unity Government.
Located in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai University is one of the country’s most prominent educational institutions.
In a statement released Tuesday, SUM said, “SUM is pleased to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with a faculty under Chiang Mai University.”
“The virtual fellowships will be taught for three months to six months and it is not [a] graduate program but the students will get [a] recognized certificate from collaboration of Chiang Mai University and SUM,” said SUM’s partnership director.
He added that they will accept 500 students to study for three years. The minimum admission age is 18, with priority given to students participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement. Their tuition will be covered, and a plan is in place to help pay the internet fees for those who need assistance. The admissions process will begin later this year.
The training will be managed by SUM, and the curriculum and teachers will be arranged by Chiang Mai University and other international universities.
They will also collaborate on academic programs and research projects, as well as on partnering with international organizations for Myanmar students.
This is the second time SUM has signed an MoA, following one it signed with International IDEA based in Sweden early this year.
Currently, SUM has 11 schools. It has conducted 300 certificate training programs and four diploma programs virtually on the topics of Economics and Management, Gender Studies, Ecology, Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, Federal Democracy, Law, Climate Change, Tourism and English Language among others over the past year.
SUM is operated with the support of international donor organizations.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with young Myanmar activists including a representative of SUM on July 10 and discussed the education situation after the 2021 coup, including the large number of CDM teachers, students and staff; how the US will support education programs; and how to teach students who don’t have internet access in Myanmar.
More than one-and-a-half years after the junta’s coup, many students and teachers in Myanmar are still boycotting the junta’s education system.
About 150,000 basic education teachers have joined the CDM out of over 450,000 teachers nationwide, according to the Basic Education General Strike Committee.
According to the junta, while 9 million basic education students are officially enrolled this year, only 5.2 million have appeared in class, meaning nearly 4 million basic education students are still boycotting the regime’s education system.
To fill the education gap, the NUG and pro-democracy activists have opened online and offline schools around the country. The junta is arresting teachers who work for NUG online schools.
The NUG operates about 52 online basic education schools and many offline schools in Yangon, Mandalay, Sagaing, Magwe, Bago, Ayerwaddy and Thanintharyi regions, and Kachin, Karen, Kayah, Shan, Mon and Chin states.