The Global Path of Myanmar University Community Teaching Programmes: Strategies, Models and Influences
Street Law and Public Legal Education: A collection of best practices from around the world in honour of Ed O’Brien, ch. 5.13, pp. 251-70 (David McQuoid-Mason, ed. 2019)
16 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2020 Last revised: 2 Sep 2020
Date Written: January 26, 2019
Law educators, clinicians, and NGO representatives attended a 2016 conference hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal School of Law and Street Law South Africa, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the School’s first international Street Law programme. The conference, which also honoured the late Street Law pioneer Ed O’Brien, provided a platform for sharing best practices in public legal education and culminated in a book setting out models for public legal education and practical guidance on the development of Street Law and other legal literacy programmes across the globe, including best practice lessons. The chapter reproduced here, from Street Law and Public Legal Education: A collection of best practices from around the world in honour of Ed O’Brien, edited by Professor David McQuoid-Mason of the KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, focuses on recent community legal education (CLE) initiatives in Myanmar (Burma). BABSEACLE co-founders Bruce Lasky and Wendy Morrish, together with International Team Leader and Clinician Stephen Rosenbaum, lay out the Myanmar programme, its history, future and sample lesson plan. Seizing on the newfound interest in clinical legal education, the international non-governmental organisation (formerly Bridges Across Borders SouthEast Asia Clinical Legal Education Initiative) drew on its successful experience in other countries throughout Asia and the methodology that had worked in diverse settings.
On paper, Myanmar’s undergraduate law curriculum is fairly in sync with the international legal academic community, but the country’s legal education system needs to build the capacity to produce lawyers with the skills and knowledge necessary to support the. Formal, institutionalised learning has been based on absorption of theoretical knowledge and teaching has been characterised by classroom call-and-response and rote memorisation. The faculties have had little to no contact with the outside legal sector. As a result, there is almost no mutual learning, trust or collaboration between the academy and civil society, legal professionals and other justice institutions. Law teachers themselves have been removed from the realities of justice issues, and at the same time, social justice organisations and institutions have had a dearth of trained law graduate personnel to assist their clients and target communities. Working with university partners, BABSEACLE collaboratively drew on four of the worldwide CLE models, identifying those considered to be most applicable in a country’s initial phase transitioning to the rule of law and access to justice. This includes Street Law, known as ‘community teaching’ in BABSEACLE parlance.
Keywords: CLE, Community Legal Education, Community Teaching, Myanmar, Public Legal Education, Street Law
JEL Classification: K00, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation