Mon communities in the United States have donated over US$30,000 (K40.7 million) to the Mon National Education Committee (Central) to support Mon ethnic education in Myanmar.
“Mon in America [agreed to] support Mon national education, after they learned about its situation,” said Sayadaw Silavanta, who along with Sayadaw Ketumala concluded a three-month trip in the U.S. that included visits to Mon communities in 30 states.
“The laymen from America respectfully invited the two abbots. They were able to describe the Mon national education [situation] to Mon [communities] in America. That’s why they have donated money,” said Mi Sar Tar, general secretary of the Mon National Education Committee (Central).The committee has struggled in the past to provide stipends to support Mon instructors, but financial situation has improved with the receipt of donations, she said.
The committee has been able to double its monthly stipend to Mon teachers from only K50,000 to up to K100,000 this year.
As a result of the trip, Mon National Education Executive Committees were also planned in prominent Mon communities in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Akron, Ohio, and Buffalo, New York. The committees will collect funds annually for education programs in Myanmar.
An Executive Committee is also planned at Wat Prok in Bangkok, Thailand, where Committee representatives met with officials from the Mon Association of Thailand on October 22.
The Mon National Education Committee was founded at the Hongsar Htaw monastery in Thanbyuzayat township, Mon State in 2013 to coordinate fundraising for future Mon language and cultural education initiatives.
Ethnic minority language activists have frequently criticized the absence of support for ethnic-language instruction in Myanmar’s Burmese-language dominated classrooms.
Ethnic-language teaching materials were only introduced in Myanmar’s basic education schools in the 2014-15 academic year, The Myanmar Times reported last month.
Currently, the Ministry of Education only provides K30,000 monthly stipends for ethnic language instructors, while regular teachers earn K180,000 per month.