Shan State parliamentarians strengthen their research skills

December 18, 2017

In Shan State — one of Myanmar’s 21 states, regions, and selfadministered zones — parliamentarians lack sufficient data and analysis to inform programs and policies that will ultimately shape a democratic Myanmar.

As part of the Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar initiative, an IDRC and Global Affairs Canada partnership, the Parliamentary Centre launched a pilot project to increase the research capacity of parliamentarians in Shan.

The Parliamentary Centre, a Canadian organization devoted to strengthening parliaments, led a train-the-trainers activity in Yangon on September 1, 2017 with the Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation (EMReF) and the Open Myanmar Initiative (OMI). The goal was to equip staff from these two think tanks to train parliamentary staff in legislative research.

The trainers immediately had an opportunity to put their newly gained skills into practice. From September 4–8, the Parliamentary Centre and EMReF conducted a practical research training for the Shan State Hluttaw (legislature) with the support of the head of research services at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

It was the first time for many participants to conduct research online. At the beginning of the training, less than half of the participants indicated that they were comfortable with internet searches, only seven had ever used Google, and only one had heard of or used Wikipedia. However, by the end of the week-long training, legislators and parliamentary staff had conducted research on topics related to their ongoing work, analyzed results, and prepared their first research briefs.

    What’s next?

    Together with EMReF and OMI, the Parliamentary Centre will:

    • Offer training on record-keeping and archiving for the Shan State Hluttaw;
    • Develop a manual for parliamentary research training;
    • Design and test a performance measurement tool to track the progress of sub-national parliaments in building research capacity.

    Did you know?

    • Shan State is the largest state in Myanmar by land area and covers almost one quarter of the total area of the country.
    • 4.3 % of all MPs in the Shan State parliament are women.