Young people will play a critical role in shaping a future of Myanmar’s transition and complex peace process and their input into these process will be integral to building a peaceful country. With this in mind, Naushawng Development Institute (NDI) has been conducting a series of trainings on Civic and Peace Education in different states and regions. These training sessions aim to enhance young people’s skills and increase their participation in the Myanmar peace process.
Supported by the Joint Peace Fund, NDI started their project in June 2017 and have successfully conducted the peace education trainings by six times for 188 participants in Myitkyina and Waimaw townships. Sixty percent of these participants were female. NDI recently conducted a training in Waingmaw, Kachin State during 17 June to 31 July. The 45-day-training brought together 32 participants from Kachin border area, Rakhine, Tanintharyi, Shan and Kayah.
The Director of NDI, Roi Nu, explained the aim of this training, “we hope to build trust and foster mutual understanding between young people through this kind of training. We also intend to create a dialogue platform to collect the voices of young people from different areas. We targeted youth from the northern part of Myanmar and we also reached out to potential applicants from across the country so that they can each other’s understand different perspectives and celebrate our diversity.”
The training provided participants with more knowledge on the peace process and the fundamental elements of human rights and democracy. Experts were also invited as guest speakers to broadly discuss issues relating to peace and federalism. There were also leaders from different religious groups as guest speakers which provided a great opportunity for participants to understand peace from different religious perspectives.
San Awng, a training coordinator said the sessions were designed to feature various subjects on peace and conflict; human rights and federalism; environmental sustainability and leadership skills.
“Some young people say that they are unfamiliar with peace and politics. The more they understand these subjects, the better they are able to participate and create a space for peace in their own community,” he explained.
One of the participants at the training was Kyaw Moe Htwan, a member of the central committee of the Rakhine Youth Union. He said it was his first time attending this kind of training and he was excited to learn more about peace.
“Young people in my community are barely involved in the peace process and not aware about the political situation. There is a fear that if they directly get involved in the peace process, they may be arrested. People know they have a right to participate but they dare not talk about peace. I learned so much from this training and I am eager to start discussions about peace in my community”
Roi Nu said the training is specially intended for rural youths as there are many more opportunities for young people from bigger cities such as Yangon and Mandalay.
“I think providing civic education to youth is a good way to try and achieve peace faster. Youths are an essential task force to help implement sustainable peace,” she says.
Ja Seng Nan, one of the participants shared how she feels about training:
“Previously, I didn’t understand very much about elections and which political party represented us. Now, I feel like I understand a lot more about politics in the country and the current state of the peace process. This training taught me that I can be part of the peace process.”