The Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford is leading higher education engagement in Myanmar, with a delegation this month visiting the University of Yangon and key justice sector agencies in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw.
Bodleian Law Librarian Ruth Bird and Stipendiary Lecturer Andrew McLeod were in-country from 5 to 14 May to support legal education and legal training. Ruth conducted several training sessions for staff and students at Yangon University in legal research and methodology and advised on enhancement to library resources. Andrew also met with senior leaders at Dagon University, East Yangon University and Yangon University of Distance Education.
At the request of the United Nations Development Programme, Andrew and Ruth travelled to Nay Pyi Taw to evaluate the resource and training needs at the Union Attorney-General’s Office, the Supreme Court of the Union of Myanmar and the Constitutional Tribunal.
The visit follows a three-week study tour of Yangon academics to Oxford University in March and the arrival of an Oxford donation of over 5000 law books to the Department of Law, increasing the law collection by a third.
“We are very grateful for this donation to our University,” said Dr Aung Thu, Rector of Yangon University. “We are excited about our relationship with the University of Oxford and look forward to closer collaboration.”
A programme of assistance being developed by the Faculty will support research activity and teaching, particularly for the first cohort of law undergraduates at Yangon in over a decade. “Our students will really appreciate this significant expansion of resources to help them with their studies. Our teachers will now be able to directly access references that we previously lacked,” said Professor Khin Mar Yee, Head of the Department of Law.
“Oxford’s donation represents the largest single contribution of books to an institution in Myanmar in recent years and underscores the seriousness of Oxford’s commitment to higher education in this country,” said Andrew McLeod, who chairs the Faculty’s Myanmar Steering Group. “We intend this to be the start of a long-term partnership with the Department of Law that will involve teaching secondments by Oxford academics and research collaboration.”
Yangon University is making significant advances in providing learning and research resources to its staff and students. In partnership with Oxford, work has begun on developing a catalogue of its collection, which was badly damaged by Cyclone Nargis in 2008.
The Faculty and the Bodleian Law Library has partnered with the Constitution Trust, a UK-based charity, to facilitate its programme. The Trust provides nascent democracies with the resources and expertise needed to foster constitutional governance and is developing a number of initiatives to support the rule of law in Myanmar.