School’s no longer out in Burma (Myanmar/Burma)

I served my time in law school and have no desire to return, yet the news that Yangon University will accept 50 new undergraduate law students – the first cohort since 1996 – on December 2* is perhaps the best news I have heard from the country in many months. Previously, the university only offered law degrees through distance learning programs at satellite campuses (see Myint Zan’s 2008 article for a more detailed discussion of the problems with the legal education system). According to The Irrawaddy, Johns Hopkins University, Australian National University, and Dulles University are involved in assisting Yangon University as it revises its curriculum.

The last law curriculum I saw had a heavy emphasis on theory rather than practical skills. It was particularly puzzling to see international and comparative law on the syllabus (presumably because the military viewed those courses as politically innocuous). With the renewal of on-campus classes and continuing legal education (CLE) programs established by BABSEA, Myanmar’s legal education system might finally be starting the long road towards providing law students with the skills the need to thrive in an increasingly dynamic legal system.

* Coincidence that this is also my birthday? I think not.

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