By Wendy Morris-BABSEACLE Co-Director.
“YES” for CLE in Myanmar was the response after asking “Do Myanmar Law Departments support Clinical Legal Education (CLE)?” during the recent 2nd Myanmar National CLE Workshop held in Mandalay. (27-29 September 2013)
The University of Mandalay hosted the 2nd CLE workshop as part of a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project to support the development of CLE in Myanmar. More than 45 Myanmar law academics & lawyers joined with regional and international CLE trainers and UNDP representatives for 3 days to learn, practice and participate in sessions focused on CLE methodology and pedagogy and incorporating pro bono activities into the legal profession starting in the law school. As anticipated and perhaps now expected from a BABSEACLE training, the energy was high and positive with a “CAN DO” approach.
To help demonstrate the effectiveness of Clinical Legal Education and Pro Bono within the Southeast Asia region and internationally, BABSEACLE called on its regional partners university clinicians to share their experiences on how their university/country has effectively incorporated CLE programmes into their law students’ curriculum and/or activities.
Throughout the 3 days, the trainers joined the participants from the 17 Myanmar universities and 3 Mandalay law firms to creatively incorporate the Myanmar legal professionals knowledge into interactive learner centered lessons that could then incorporate into their existing law classes. The topics chosen for the CLE lesson plans ranged from criminal law and maritime law, some of the topics included
- Criminal law and cheating
- Validity of marriage under Myanmar customary law
- Divorce by mutual consent
- Maritime dispute and delimitation of maritime zone
After the lessons were developed, the workshop participants then taught their lesson practicing the CLE methodology on the peers who were then encouraged to give constructive feedback and evaluate the effectiveness of this lesson in the Myanmar context. One observation noted by the participants was the use of role playing in their family law lessons proving to be a very effective method for demonstrating the differences between customary law and statutory law in Myanmar.
The lessons taught by role-play method are an interactive teaching, this method is easy to understand and remember the lesson for a long time.
In addition to the CLE lesson plan development, sessions also covered what current law subjects each university could potentially incorporate this methodology and pedagogy; pro bono; effective interviewing & counseling skills; strategic planning and the pro & cons when implementing a longitudinal study focusing on the development and expansion of CLE in Myanmar. Also something that has come to be expected and anticipated at a BABSEACLE training was the networking and team building activities, including sharing traditional dances and singing – Myanmar CLE now knows the ‘Banana Dance’.
“I have learned that CLE is a program where students learn by practicing doing the different methods of teaching, the way to improve curriculum and how to apply CLE methods in the current subject in Myanmar.” “CLE methods should be incorporated into all law subjects and lessons”.
BABSEACLE would like to thank the Union of Myanmar Ministry of Education, all our Myanmar University Partners, UNDP and all the trainers, both regional and international whose experience, enthusiasm and dedication to CLE and support the Myanmar CLE initiative. Our appreciation goes out to Mr Phallack Kong, Pannannastra University Cambodia; Ms Leni Mulyani, Faculty for Law Pasundan University Indonesia; Mr Nguyen Chi Ngoc LERES Centre/Vietnam National University-Hanoi Vietnam; Mrs Asnida Binti Mohd Suhaimi, Faculty of Law University of Malaya Malaysia; Mr Bounleuth Xaphakdy, National University of Laos Faculty of Law and Political Science Laos, Mr Michael Gill, Lawyer DLA Piper and New Perimeters, and Ms Helen Yandell, Springvale-Monash Legal Centre and BABSEACLE Australia, Melbourne Australia and our BABSEACLE trainers/team Mr Bruce Lasky, Ms Thip Nouansyvong, Ms Nguyen Thi Thuy Linh, Ms Nwe Mar and Ms Wendy Morrish. Further thanks goes out to The Open Society Foundation and The Open Society Justice Initiative for their providing vital technical and other support to make this project such a success.