Mon educators are still waiting to hear from the Union government about a proposal to fund Mon national schools.
The K80 million proposal would support over 130 Mon national schools where the curriculum is taught entirely in Mon language. The program was previously supported by a grant from the UN children’s fund (UNICEF), according to Min Aung Zay, an officer leading the Mon National School project.
He said the Mon National Education Committee already submitted the proposal and request for a budget in February, but has not yet received a reply. He is nevertheless optimistic the program will be approved eventually.
“We only need permission from the President’s Office. We are likely to get the budget for the school fund and stationaries,” he said.
More than 130 Mon national schools operate in southern Myanmar, with about 90 in Mon State, 24 in Kayin (Karen) State and 16 in Tanintharyi Region.
Both Mon children and non-Mon children who are interested can attend the schools.
“Burmese, Karen, and Dawei children who are not Mon can also attend. In some villages, Karen and Dawei children do attend,” Min Aung Zay said.
U Aung Naing Oo, deputy Speaker of the Mon State Hluttaw, expressed support for the project. He said the Mon national schools should be granted a sufficient budget and the government should assist with infrastructure, but he isn’t as optimistic as Min Aung Zay that the program will get a green light any time soon.
“We have been demanding [support for this] since the previous administration. But the Union government hasn’t made any decisions because they are not state-run schools,” he said.
The Mon national schools have over 800 teachers on the payroll.
“The government should take responsibility for the schools’ requirements and health issues. The main difficulty is the teachers’ salaries. There are also difficulties with the school buildings,” said Mi La Wi Han, a former high school principal from a Mon national school. “The public has been trying its best to support the schools in the rural areas that are out of government’s reach.”
She called on the Union government to recognize Mon national school teachers as colleagues on par with teachers from the state-run schools.
High school students from Mon national schools have been allowed to sit the matriculation exam since 1996. Over 400 Mon national school students have passed the matriculation exam.