Archive for the Education Category

Off My High Horse

Posted in Development, Education on December 11, 2010 by burmaperspective

Like many people, I have been outraged by stories of child labor in the world.  The first time I visited Asia, I was shocked by all the children working in the middle of the school day.  In Burma, my room was cleaned by 10 year-olds and the kids that served as waiters in the teashops weren’t much older.  At home, I often joined the chorus of outrage at stories about children working in factories and the all-around low pay for employees that made so many of the goods we use every day.     Similarly, I looked on in disgust at the middle aged and older white guys patronizing the sex industry all over Asia.  The solution seemed so obvious:  shut down those terrible factories and get rid of the brothels and sex bars.  Put pressure on businesses not to use children as employees. Continue reading

Burma ≠ North Korea

Posted in Arts, Civil Society, Education on November 1, 2010 by burmaperspective

News about Burma is almost exclusively negative.  But, Burma is not North Korea. I think that opposition groups tend to avoid talking about the positive developments in the country because they are worried that any positive news will take focus off the fact that the county continues to be ruled by a repressive dictatorship with little regard for human rights.  I actually think that this strategy has the opposite effect.  It distances westerners from the Burmese people, who get portrayed strictly as victims.

The truth is that many Burmese have access to the internet.  Many have satellite dishes.  Bootleg DVDs are sold on the streets of Yangon and movie theaters even play American movies.  As a former British colony, many Burmese speak English.  They also are huge Premier League football fans, with an unnatural affinity for Manchester United.

Culture can thrive in Myanmar, often carefully walking a line that keeps it out of the crosshairs of the regime.  Moreover, Yangon has a healthy hip-hop scene, both mainstream and underground, in addition to a thriving hardcore scene.  While much of the country lives in extreme poverty, it is important to understand that there is a sector of the country that not only has a strong cultural scene, but is also quite knowledgeable about western culture. Continue reading