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Official launch of "Guides for Growing Citizens"

Spectrum and UNICEF Myanmar have celebrated the joint release of the print version of their children and young people's Guides for Growing Citizen's.

Development of the Myanmar language guides – with support from Myanmar’s Ministry of Finance – has been ongoing since early in 2015. The guides are a a companion to the country’s first Citizen’s Budget for five decades and are being distributed to schools, universities, government libraries and civil society actors and groups.

Around 100 people attended the launch at the Park Royal Hotel, Yangon, with representatives from national and international NGOs, CBOs, universities and government schools and the Ministry of Finance. More than 40 members of the press attended a media briefing after the event.

Bertrand Bainval, UNICEF Representative in Myanmar, David Allan, Spectrum Director and Nyo Mar Than, Spectrum Budget Program lead, spoke at the event.

Nyo Mar said: “People at the launch understood that knowing the national budget process is important and can lead to greater transparency or accountability. Because they are our future leaders, it is essential for children to know about the national budget, so they become curious about what is going on with public funds. In fact, everyone in Myanmar should know about it, so the public can do expenditure tracking. This will highlight when the government uses public funds effectively and administration is transparent.”

Bertrand Bainval said: “The budget is a government's most important policy statement about its priorities. How much is spent on education, health, and social protection determines whether all children can enjoy their rights, develop and thrive.

“These two budget guides aim to empower children and young citizens with civic knowledge to demand the realisation of their rights to education, to health care, and to protection. They are also are a reminder to politicians of their commitments to children.

“Only with a continued increase in social sector investment will children in Myanmar be able to enjoy their rights and realise their full potential. UNICEF has been calling to increase the government budget share for education, health and social welfare to 15% by 2017. This requires putting children first when deciding where the budget goes. It also means encouraging children and youth's participation and listening to their views of what matters to them.”

David Allan added: “This is a long term approach to growing a critical mass of informed citizens. Understanding and information access opens the way for improved social accountability. through holding public figures accountable. With information on both the revenue and spending sides of the budget, citizen involvement in transparency and accountability is possible. That allows various public finance reforms to come together for more visible impact on improving people's lives. I think its one of the most exciting pieces of work Spectrum have done so far."

For more information, download David and Nyo Mar’s presentations, National Budget: A Guide for Growing Citizens and What is a budget?

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