Pyin Nyar Ta Soung Education Center concerned for students’ futures
July 9, 2012
HURFOM: The education service center Pyin Nyar Ta Soung is concerned that children of the many ethnic groups living in the border town of Three Pagodas Pass are facing increasing threats to their education. The cost for attending“tuition,” a fee-based, after-school class, is higher than ever and many local parents are manual laborers who cannot manage the fees. Pyin Nyar Ta Soung, an organization established to promote education along the border, is opposed to the practice of tuition because teachers charge excessive prices and create an environment that forces students to attend after-school class because quality instruction is with held during regular school hours.
Students in ninth and tenth grades who pursue evening studies are charged an estimated 1,800 Baht per month. Tuition fees are charged per subject, meaning students pay around 200 Baht for each subject they study after school, though the fees differ between schools. Also, middle and high school students are charged for extra instruction time on top of tuition fees, paying 300 Baht per month, while primary school students pay 200 Baht. A few teachers allow students who cannot afford the fees to pay less, but this is not common.
After it was announced that primary school instruction was to be free this year, more villagers than ever decided to allow their children to attend. However, a large number of children dropped out of primary school shortly after starting because there were not enough books for all the students. The books are available to buy outside of school, but most parents cannot afford the additional cost.
According to a staff member at Pyin Nyar Ta Soung, “If the teachers would properly teach the students in school, there would be no need for tuition. For example, when the school teaches Chapter A, tuition teaches Chapter B, so it is difficult for the students to follow the [two styles of] instruction. Some students cannot attend tuition because they have to help their parents after school. As you know, there should be tuition, if the teacher really provided valuable assistance to the students who need help,supported the education of average students,and encouraged more advanced learning for students who are doing well. But, in reality, the teachers not only discriminate against students who do not attend tuition, but are also more focused on getting paid than [the quality of] instruction.”
The staff member added, “We at Pyin Nyar Ta Soung try to promote better education for students because we are concerned about their futures. Now, we guide [tutor] the students in ninth and tenth grades. For the guidance, we take 200 Baht per month, but only from the students who can pay us. We teach students who cannot pay for free.”
There are eight schools in Three Pagodas Pass: one high school, one monastery-run philanthropic middle school, one sub-middle school, and five primary schools.
This coming July 19will mark the one year anniversary of the Pyin Nyar Ta Soung center, which was founded by a senior monk leading local youth on Martyr Day, July 19, 2011. The center’s mission is to promote literacy, education, and knowledge with five specific goals: to advance learning and to increase accessto education for ethnic children on the border, to support better education for impoverished children, to improve national education andencourage social and cultural developmentthrough communication between ethnic groups, and to cultivate cooperationin rural and national development. The education center includes 6 patrons, 10 executives, and 20 members from Three Pagodas Pass.