LayiHtaw – Mon language study is only permitted in Mon State government schools two days a week, on Saturdays and Sundays, according to a source from Mon National Education Committee (MNEC) Center.
During a meeting on April 11th between the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and U Aung Min, the chief government peace negotiator, Mi Sar Dar, an official of MNEC, presented a Mon language program to be taught in governmental schools.
“The MNEC will negotiate with the government this Mayregarding future plans [for studying Mon language],” said an official of MNEC.
The main objectives of MNEC are to maintain Mon literature and culture, to teach Mon language to Mon youths, and to teach Mon grammar usage to Mon people.
In 1995, during a previous NMSP ceasefire, there were 109 governmental schools in Moulmein, Kawkareik, Kyaikmayaw, Kyarinnseikyi, and Southern and Northern Ye Townships that allowed Mon language study.
Now, according to the official of MNEC, the Committeeplans to get permission to offer Mon language in about 400 governmental schools in Mon State, and to institute the changes with three years.
“The plan will start in 2012. [Mon language will be] offered from first to fifth grades. The primary school textbooks will be based on a curriculum designedby MNEC.”
Subjects to be covered include Mon history, poetry, culture, art, and grammar.
During the early years of independence under U Nu, government schools allowed the study of Mon language, and a Board of Mon Education was organized in 1954. Mon teachers were appointed to government schools and Mon language was officially allowed in primary education.
The first set back occurred in 1962, when Mon language was prohibited by the Burma Socialist Programme Party, although it was still offered part-time at some governmental schools through unofficial agreements.
Responding to growing constraints, the NMSP founded the MNEC in 1972 and provided grade-by-grade study of Mon language. The Party also formed a small, central education delegation in 1984-85.
Finally, in 1988, the study of Mon language was completely banned in government schools. Mon people, like other ethnic groups,lost the right to study their mother language.
Today, there are almost three million Mon people living in lower Burma.