Summer School supports Clinical Legal Education at universities across Myanmar

May 14, 2015

More than 55 law teachers from across Myanmar are attending the Myanmar National Clinical Legal Education (CLE) Summer School at Taungoo University in Bago Region.

It builds on the first national CLE summer school held at Taunggyi University in Shan State in May last year. Clinical legal education is an innovative approach to legal education which focuses on building practical skills for law students while developing community legal outreach programs to support access to justice.

Participants at the five-day summer school will learn how to measure impact and show results in developing CLE programs, as well as develop knowledge and skills on CLE programme supervision and mentoring; administrative structures; client intake, interview and counseling; and course accreditation.

“I am confident that the knowledge that will be shared in this training will also be a great support to our teaching staff to enhance their legal knowledge,” said Taungoo University rector Dr. Tin Tun.

The Summer School also offers an opportunity to build on the steps universities have taken towards developing CLE programs in their own law departments, and to share and learn from each other’s experiences.  Each university presented a detailed update on its CLE program plan and activities on the first day of the Summer School.  These include mock trial programs, externships, community teaching and outreach initiatives, and the establishment of on-campus clinics.

Dawei University law lecturer Daw Tin Myo Win, shared her law department’s plan to develop Justice Centres in local villages. She said the program is “especially for poor people to give legal knowledge and to help them with legal rights”.

Participants were encouraged to share the knowledge gained at the Summer School with their universities and through developing programs to assist local communities.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Speaker of the Bago Region Parliament, U Win Tin, said “Law teachers who come from across the country should share the knowledge gained here with their respective universities and also the university students, and with the community which needs legal assistance to protect the people”.

The CLE program in Myanmar began in 2013 in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, and has since expanded to include the active involvement of all 18 of Myanmar’s university law departments. In 2014 alone, over 400 law teachers and students received training in CLE as part of the program. As implementing partner Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia Community Legal Education Initiative (BABSEA CLE) director, Mr. Bruce Lasky, explained, “It is important to recognize that the CLE program in Myanmar is the vision of many people, including the Ministry of Education and the university rectors”.

Ms. Caitlin Reiger, Chief Technical Advisor on Rule of Law for UNDP said, “The program has impact on a national scale, and there are very few other rule of law programs in the country that have this reach”.

UNDP’s Rule of Law and Access to Justice program has dedicated nearly 1 million dollars to a two year project with implementing partner BABSEA CLE to support the development and strengthening of CLE programmes in all Myanmar universities, as part of its broader support to strengthening legal education and access to justice.

The following universities are participating: Dagon University, Dawei University, East Yangon University, Magway University, Mandalay University, Mandalay University of Distance Education, Maylamyine University, Monywa University, Myitkyina University, Pathein University, Pinlong University, Pyay University, Sittwe University, Taunggyi University, Taungoo University, Yadanabon University, Yangon University and Yangon University of Distance Education.

The week long Myanmar National Clinical Legal Education (CLE) Summer School at Taungoo University ends on May 15.

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