democracy, Democratic transitions, News


Ko Zeyar Lin is a senior trainer from Myanmar Egress. As part of the EU-funded STEP Democracy Project, he oversaw Civic Education and Voter Education training sessions in remote areas of Kayin State, Mon State and Ayeyarwady Region. Through participating in these sessions, members of remote communities were able to gain knowledge and new insights on politics.  In this interview, he describes his experience conducting these sessions.

1) What do you like most about your job as a trainer?

My favourite part of my job is the interactive Q&A portion of the training sessions, where I gage what participants have absorbed from the session.

2) Why are training sessions like the “Public Participation for Democracy” session important at this moment in Myanmar’s ongoing democratic transition?

Public participation is essential to the ongoing democratic transition and more people need to be aware of the different ways they can contribute to this process. The importance of holding similar sessions is clearly visible.

3) How have training sessions influenced the opinions of participants?

When participants were asked about democracy before the training sessions, they thought that it only concerned the system of government that exist in a country.

However, after participating in the sessions, participants understood concepts such as federalism and democracy in greater detail. They understood the importance of public participation, the relevance of democracy to everyday life and the importance of public participation in facilitating the ongoing democratic transition.

4) Please share some of the main challenges trainers face in remote areas?

Generally, it took more time to travel to these areas and there were other logistical and accommodation-related challenges. For example, in some areas, the training sessions could not be conducted openly and encountered administrative related problems. In others, participants were hesitant to attend sessions because of negative previous experiences they had attending training sessions held by other INGOs. Participants felt that they were treated unfairly and that the sessions were one-sided.

5) What is your greatest achievement conducting voter and civic education training? Do you have any memorable moments in mind?

My greatest achievement would be that some former training session participants have gone on to participate in State and Region level-dialogue, essential to the political process. They started speaking out about issues relevant to their communities and stood up for their rights, not only in CSO forums but also within their communities. A directly election-related achievement is when I see voters vote based on the quality of the candidate rather than party-affiliation.

Participants discussing in a Public Participation for Democracy training.

Participants discussing in a Public Participation for Democracy training.