Village welcomes Mon language instruction back to government school

October 21, 2013

WCRP:After two decades of Mon language instruction being barred from government classrooms, a combined primary and middle school in Yebyu Township’s Yaphu village has received government go-ahead to once again teach their mother tongue. Villagers said they celebrated the decision but were disheartened that government funding for the language classes would reportedly not be released until 2014. Nonetheless, in a move to rally around the newly won consent, the community sought donations from the village administration, local residents, and the area’s predominant ethnic resistance group, the New Mon State Party (NMSP), to immediately commence Mon language classes for primary schoolchildren.

Families of Yaphu’s roughly 200 households were asked to contribute as much as they could, anywhere from 500 to 1,000 kyat, to secure a monthly salary of 50,000 kyat for an instructor. The collection drive succeeded, and in September residents hired a former monastic school Mon language teacher to instruct more than 100 children ranging from first to fifth grades. Villagers said the NMSP supplied the Mon language textbooks.

“I only have to teach one subject to all the students,” said the recently appointed teacher. “It’s not difficult to teach them and they learn fast because Mon is their mother language. They all seem interested. As a Mon teacher, I am so happy that Mon language was allowed in government schools. I will try my hardest to teach [the students] as best I can.”

The instructor explained that she teaches Mon to first through third graders for 30 minutes each day and spends 45 minutes with the fourth and fifth graders. She said class often begins with a Mon language poem to engage the students and afterward they study the alphabet.

“I was very pleased that Mon language [instruction] was permitted in the government school,” said one parent of a primary school student. “I also encouraged them to [offer] it; I think there’s nothing better for the children. I thought the most effective way to learn Mon language was to learn it during summer school at the monastery [because in the past] Mon language was only taught at the monastery. I would like the [Mon language] teacher in the government school to teach well. The children’s education depends on how the teachers teach.”

According to locals, Mon language instruction in Yebyu Township’s government schools has also been made available in nearby Kywe Ta Lin village, while Kadin and Lae Sa Khan villages are still petitioning for approval.

 

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