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Mon language instruction impeded in government schools

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Mi Lyi Htaw – Although the government’s Ministry of Education (MOE) and chief of peace negotiator, Railway Minister U Aung Min, allowed Mon language to be taught in government schools, school headmasters from Kyaikmayaw Township are not complying with the policy change, according to leaders of the Mon Literature and Culture Committee (MLCC).

In response to the headmasters’ restrictions, representatives from MLCC, Mon community leaders, and Buddhist monks have traveled to Kyaikmayaw Township to explain the government’s policy and discuss when there could be an appropriate time to teach Mon language, either during school hours or outside of school time, said Nai Soe Myint, a leader from MLCC.

In a consultation in Kaw-sak village, Headmistress Mi Myint Myint Khaing said, “We will try our best, if teaching Mon language is necessary to teach in school. But our concern is that teaching Mon language in school will limit our time [for other instruction].”

On April 11, during the first round of political talks with the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Union level government peace delegation, the latter granted the Mon National Education Committee (MNEC) permission to allow Mon language to be taught in Mon village schools.

However, Dr. Mya Aye, a senior official from the Ministry of Education, said that the ethnic language must be taught only outside of regular school time. He also suggested that the curriculum be negotiated between local education officials and ethnic language and culture committees.

But MNEC officials said that offering Mon language before or after school could tire or demotivate students, and is not an effective approach. The school day in Burma is from 8: 30 a.m to 3:30 p.m.

In a consultation with Kaw-zwe village school headmistress Daw Mi Mi, she emphatically opposed allowing Mon language instruction in her school, reported meeting attendee Rev. Hong Sar Htaw.

“If Mon language is taught in our school, it could create conflict with our school schedule,” said Daw Mi Mi.

The MLCC and Mon monks stated that while the headmistress from Kaw-zwe village did not agree, the Kaw-sak village school headmistress would allow Mon language to be taught.

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