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Raising Up a Fallen Ivory Tower

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Science  30 Nov 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6111, pp. 1140-1142
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6111.1140

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Myanmar's political transformation is giving academics hope that their long, dark night is nearing an end. President Thein Sein, a former general who took office in March 2011, has reintroduced press freedoms, canceled a massive Chinese-led dam project, and released opposition leader and Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest. Now, higher education is about to take center stage. Next week, the country's top engineering institutions will admit their first undergrads in more than a decade. Other universities are slashing enrollment to boost faculty-student ratios and renovating threadbare labs. U.S. President Barack Obama's brief stay here last week was a milestone on the Southeast Asian nation's rapid transformation from pariah to budding democracy. A moment of truth for Burmese society has arrived.