The exams, which began on March 10th and will end on March 19th, are required for all students wishing to exit high school and enter university. Scores received on 10 standard exams are used to determine which caliber of university a prospective student can enroll in.
“In Mudon Township there is no regular electricity, it is now the time for student examinations [to enter university]. When the students need light to read, students whose homes have generators can get light, but those who have no generator have study by candle light,” said the mother of a Mudon town highs school student currently taking the exams.
She informed IMNA that five months ago, in mid November, Mudon Township enjoyed regular, 24-hour power supplies. However, since the start of 2010, electricity supplies have been slowly dwindling, and currently electrical access in Mudon Township is as poor as it has been for the past 20 years, since the current Burmese government took power in 1990. Reportedly, when power supplies do come to Mudon Township, they frequently arrive during the late hours of the night and the early hours of the morning, and only for brief intervals.
“The electricity is coming ‘on and off’ for the moment; Moulmein gets electricity just 5 or 6 hours. Before the time of the student’s exams, there were not too many difficulties for them, but during this examination period it [the irregular electricity] is difficult for high school and college students to deal with. The other times, this doesn’t matter, but they should give regular, full electricity during student exam times. Everyone is angry about the bad electricity, but everyone feels that they must stay quiet [rather than protesting]” a resident of Myinetharyar quarter in Moulmein city explained.
The mother of the high school student from Mudon Town reported to IMNA that electricity access outside of Moulmein is even more limited. She claimed that Mudon town and the remainder of Mudon Township only receives electricity for an average of 2 to 3 hours a day; at times, power fails to come for an entire day.
In March 2009, poor electrical supplies during exams led Mawlamyine University students to lead a massive protest, which resulted in regular power supplies being given to Moulmein city for a period of 2 months. However, by May 2009 electricity in Moulmein had sadly returned to its previous, fickle status quo.
“The high school and university students – the entire student population – protested in Moulmein city last year because there was no electricity during examinations last year. The electricity is now coming ‘on again, off again’, it is not regular, just like last year’s situation, but they [Moulmein students] are not doing the what they did last year [protesting]. They are all quiet,” a second Moulmein resident informed IMNA.