A WOSM delegation is visiting Myanmar this mid-May for a historic mission of re-opening the possibility of reviving Scouting in the country. Regional Chairman Dr Chao Shou-Po is leading the delegation.
Scouting in Myanmar was strong in the 1950s until the very early 1960s. Then known as the Union of Burma Boy Scouts (UBBS), it was one of the founding members of the Far East Regional Scout Conference (now Asia-Pacific) in 1958. The first Conference elected Mr U Ba Htay of Burma as Chairman of the Regional Scout Committee for a two-year term. In 1960, UBBS hosted the 2nd Far East Regional Scout Conference.
Scouting at that time was highly visible with many community services taking place in urban centres and rural areas of the country. Until 1962, Scout Leaders took their training seriously with a series of trainings across the country’s five regions.
However, on 1st March 1964, Scouting and Guiding were dissolved despite a peak membership of over 93,000. Myanmar is now one of the very few independent countries without an active Scouting Movement.
Today many old Scout leaders live in Yangon and they are eager to see Scouting thrive again. Reports say that last March, around 120 former Scouts in Yangon had a gathering, the oldest Scout is 88 years old and the oldest Girl Guide is 84 years old. Some brought along with them their Scout uniforms. They sang Scout songs and narrated stories of their Scouting days.
Reports also say that Myanmar had a Jamboree early this year in Nay Pyi Taw with 480 Scouts from 20 schools from all states and regions. The old Scouts joined and helped. The Minister of Education attended the opening together with Deputy Ministers and other heads of departments.
In March this year, the President of Myanmar, Thein Sein, visited Canberra and attended a function hosted by the Governor General who is also the Chief Scout of Australia. As the visit progressed, the Myanmar President expressed a strong desire to develop Scouting in his country.
Hearing about the visit to Myanmar, Mr U Tin Nyo recently wrote, “This will be an exciting experience for all of us. We wish to propose that the meeting with the visiting team should be organised in Yangon where many old Scouts live. We are now working closely with them as they are eager to help us build our bright future.”
The Union of Burma Boy Scouts was a founding member of the 1st Far East Regional Scout Conference in 1958.
Mr U Ba Htay of Burma (left), elected Chairman of the Regional Scout Committee at the 1st Far East Regional Conference, is shown working with the then Regional Commissioner Guillermo Padolina (center) and the regional staff in 1958.
A Scout troop in Pegu, Burma between the late 1950s and early 60s.