Community Group Takes Over 100 Schools in Mon State
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Community Group Takes Over 100 Schools in Mon State

By LAWI WENG / THE IRRAWADDY Thursday, March 22, 2012

Students at a Mon state national school. (Photo:

The New Mon State Party (NMSP) is set to hand over control of around 100 national schools to civil community leaders to safeguard the teaching of Mon language and culture, claim local sources.

“[The NMSP] believes it is time for Mon community leaders to work by themselves for the schools. Therefore, they have given us control of 99 schools from four townships.” said Rev. Vadanta Thila Wuntha, a Mon Buddhist Monk in charge of teaching in the schools.

“They are also going to give us schools from Kyaikmayaw Township as well, but we do not yet know the details or numbers involved,”

Leaders of the NMSP and members of the Mon Literature and Culture Committee (MLCC) reached an agreement in the Mon State capital Moulmein on March 18 that schools from four townships—Thanbyuzayat, Mudon, Hpa-an and Kawkareik—would be managed by the community group, according to Vadanta Thila Wuntha.

“They gave us those schools because they wanted them to run for a long time,” said Min Soe Linn, the joint chairman of the MLCC.

He added that the NMSP was worried that the schools would not be able to operate consistently if they were constantly moving between rebel and government control, depending on fragile ceasefires.

The NMSP formed Mon national schools in 1972 with the intention of teaching local children Mon language and culture. According to statistics from the Mon National Education Department, there are currently 156 national schools in Mon State, while 116 schools offer a mixed curriculum of Burmese and Mon language lessons. There are currently around 17,000 Mon students and 800 teachers.

Mon national schools run a similar curriculum to government institutions. Students who earn ten good grades are able to have exams at the government schools, which provides the opportunity to carry on to higher education and university.

The NMSP is going to provide some money for the salaries of school teachers, but the MLCC will have to find other ways to supplement funding.

“It is a big task for us as we have to pay the salary for all teachers every month,” said Vadanta Thila Wuntha. “We do not have funds for this set aside. We want a long-term project for these schools if there are people who can help.”

MLCC leaders said that they may receive some funding from NGOs inside the country in order to deal with any cash shortfall. If they are unable to find the necessary funding, they plan to form an association in every village in Mon State to seek donations from local people.

Meanwhile, teaching the Mon language at casual summer schools—at monastries and community groups—in Mon State and Rangoon has been permitted by the Burmese authorities.

Nai Banyar Seik Son, who teaches the Mon language in the former capital, said that he enjoys more freedom teaching his native language this year with the political changes currently taking place in the country. There are 200 Mon students at his summer school in Rangoon.

Chief Minister of Karen State Zaw Min has allowed Mon summer classes, which run for one month, to be taught at government schools this year. However, Chief Minister of Mon State Ohn Myint has not given permission for the Mon language to be taught at government schools by saying that if he allowed Mon, other ethnic groups would demand their languages to be taught as well.

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CTH Wrote:
MawShe, I agree with you that the Medium of Instruction should be English just like the days after Independence in 1948. Our education system was destroyed by Ne Win when he introduced the "Burmese Way To Socialism" which is the "Burmese Way to Poverty" Singapore had a smart and intellegent Prime Minister who made English the Government Language and Medium of instruction in Schools and Universities. Lee Kuan Yew who is a Chinese hinself objected when the Chinese politicians wanted to make Chinese the Government Language and in Schools, instead he made Chinese, Malay and Tamil an elective language of choice for any students. Look at Singapore now, a Third World Country is now a First World Country.

MawShe Wrote:
Stupid Chief Minister Zaw Min; of course all ethnic groups in democratic society are allowed to teach their language in public schools as elective course. Myanmar has to allow too if we are to respect human rights. In fact we should stop abusing human rights like not allowing ethnic people's rights to learn their language in public school.

MawShe Wrote:
CTH: the problem of Myanmar is Burman language is forced to teach non-Burman ethnics while their languages are not allowed to teach in public school. Unlike Singapore and Philippine, although 40% of population are ethnic in Myanmar, English is not used as official language. But you are right, any language including Burman should not be forced, except the Medium of Instruction which should be English. Why English, because all sciences and technology are only available in English. Forcing ethnics to learn those sciences in Burman language is a torture and negative discrimination.

CTH Wrote:
Mon languagge should not be made compulsory for Schools in Mon State since there are other nationalties in school, it should be left to students choice just like in Singapore where they can choose either Chinese, Malay or Tamil language, any students can take either one of the three languages, it should not be forced on them otherwise there will be political problem.

Oo Maung Gyi Wrote:
Why Mon State Chief Minster Ohn Myint is jealous of teaching Mon Language in Mon State governments schools Only? So also other ethnic groups has the rights to teach their languages at government schools within their respective states only. Under democratic system equality is prevailing.

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