On 7-11 December 2018, alumni from the Myanmar School of Politics (MySoP) came together for a full weekend of learning and trust building.
The Alumni Weekend responded to requests from MySoP alumni to help strengthen their knowledge and skills in inclusive policy development.
The participants gained enhanced knowledge and practical skills on how to build concrete and inclusive policies. They left the workshop with the tools to develop a strategy for concrete action to put their new knowledge and skills to work.
A multiparty context
As MySoP alumni, the participants had all previously taken part in MySoP activities. Organized by NIMD and Demo Finland, MySoP provides training courses to strengthen the democratic role of politicians and political parties, and enhance the practice of multiparty dialogue.
The 151 MySoP alumni attending the Alumni Weekend represented 32 political parties from five different state and regions of Myanmar.
In this multiparty setting, members of all parties with an established presence were encouraged to engage in dialogue in a neutral, respectful setting.
This is key to MySoP’s approach. All MySoP courses aim to build trust between the different political party representatives, and promote a political culture of openness and cooperation.
An interactive structure
The three-day workshop involved both plenary discussions and a series of interactive breakout workshops, which provided the chance for more in-depth learning on particular aspects of policy making.
The gathering was also an opportunity for MySoP alumni to share their perspectives and needs for future programming. Based on this input, MySoP will develop programming ideas and to explore new ways of engaging alumni.
The event was also attended by several high-level figures, including cabinet members from Myanmar’s Shan State, Kayin State, Kayah State, Mon State and Taninthayi Region, officials from the Netherlands Embassy in Myanmar, the Finnish Ambassador to Myanmar, the Chair of the Regional Election Commission and its members, and MySoP’s trainers.
Speeches were made by the Chair of the Union Election Commission (UEC), U Hla Thein, and Taninthayi Region Chief Minister Dr. Daw Lei Lei Maw .
In his opening speech, the UEC Chair called for unity and collaboration amongst those involved in the electoral sector. This, he said, would be the key to holding a free and fair election, supporting a multiparty system, and having election results consistent with the people’s wishes.
H.E Daw Lei Lei Maw, who is an alumni of the first MySoP Core Course in 2014, acknowledged the importance of the course to her own political development, citing her personal commitment to dialogue, transparency and a multiparty approach as direct results of joining MySoP. She went on to say that the lessons she learned at MySoP play a major role in her work as Chief Minister of the Tanintharyi Region.
In our work in Myanmar, Demo Finland and NIMD have two key aims. The first is to help politicians from all the political parties to enhance their knowledge and skills for working in a democracy. The second is to develop the practice of collaboration by enhancing the practice of multiparty dialogue.
The programme works on both of these aims by running MySoP. During the school’s activities, politicians from different parties discuss and learn together in a neutral, respectful, multiparty setting. MySoP’s three interrelated components are:
- Core courses: intensive, 20-day learning retreats aimed at improving politicians’ capacities and political engagement
- Alumni activities: long weekends where core course alumni gather to further increase their knowledge and capacity on the issues of programmatic parties, intraparty democracy, and dialogue
- Multiparty dialogue platforms: facilitated dialogue cycles designed to enhance the practice of multiparty dialogue and to find new approaches to state- and region-level challenges and opportunities.