Directions conference, day two, keynote two

by Paul Maharg on 04/06/2016

Our first session today was a plenary with Professors Stacy Caplow talking to us over Skype from Brooklyn Law School on clinical legal education from the perspective of 2026, Rich Flofcheski, Hong Kong U Faculty of Law on flipping the tort class, and Lisa Webley on researching legal education — methods, outcomes and directions.  Chaired by me, so no liveblogging.

But here we are after coffee, for the second keynote by Dr Khin Mar Yee, Professor and HoD of the Law School of the University of Yangon, Myanmar, talking about legal education in Myanmar.  She started by describing the geography and economic situation, sited between India, China and Thailand.  She regarded legal education as the essential tool for the development of the rule of law in Myanmar; and this was supported by s.28 of the Constitution — the Union will ‘earnestly strive to support the development of legal education’.  Yangon University was originally established as Rangoon University, under British colonial rule, and the law department offered  a Bachelor of Laws (BL), and as a part-time post graduate degree.  This was ended in 1964.  Afterwards, it became a full-time course. RL (Registered Lawyer) courses were set up.  Now, both BL & RL courses are no longer in existence.  Since 1978 the department has hosted the LLB degree, five year, full-time course of study.  The LLB is the main vehicle for law departments of 18 universities in Myanmar (all are public (I think she said this), but when private universities are founded they will be better funded through high fees, and staff will be better paid as a result — currrently staff salaries in public universities is very low).  The U of Yangon and the University of Mandalay offer postgraduate courses — the only two universities to do so.  In LLMs Yangon specialised in Civil, Commercial, International and Maritime Law.  One interesting Masters is the Master of Research, focusing on research methodologies.  PhDs are also offered — a five year programme.  Khin noted that Diplomas were popular in Yangon U, eg Diploma in Business Studies, Intellectual Property, etc.   The problem of language was a serious one, she said.  English was the language of legal instruction; but students’ command of it was not good.   However, depending on the teacher, both languages are used.  Students though are required to answer in English in assessments.  Most assessments are examinations.

There is considerable support for Myanmar legal education from international sources.  Eg a workshop on clinical legal education sponsored by UNDP partnering BABSEA CLE, professor exchange programme with University of Toulouse, and visits from professors from Columbia University and the National University of Singapore to YU Law Department, often on the subject of human rights education.  Library and teaching resources are inadequate according to Khin.  Many foreign universities and individual donors donate law textbooks.  Foreign universities also assist with ongoing programmes in legal education.

Interesting overview of legal education in Myanmar.

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