“Tuition” practices continue in Mon State
October 22, 2013
WCRP: Despite regulations placed on schoolteachers by the education department in Moulmein, the capital of Mon State, the fee-based, after-school tutoring sessions known as “tuition” allegedly continue to be offered to students. A common characteristic of the Burmese education system, tuition increases schooling’s cost burden on families and puts pressure on students who say their grades and exam scores would suffer without the extra instruction.
The Chief of Education reportedly handed down the most recent prohibition on tuition to principals in every school in Mon State on August 2. The ruling allegedly barred government schoolteachers from offering tuition and stipulated that they work together collaboratively in the schools and follow guidance given by principals.
“The rule that restricted tuition was already set in 2008. [Then in] August 2013 it was publicized again,” said a principal from Mudon Township. “The principals and teachers already signed contracts promising not to hold tuition. However, many teachers do not follow the rule.”
She continued by describing how conflict was being created in schools and communities because some teachers adhered to the ruling while others disregarded it. If teachers did not keep their promises to stop tuition, she said, democratic reform would not be encouraged at the local level.
However, teachers pointed to their low government salaries as creating strong incentives to supplement income with tuition fees. They also explained that any community member with a university degree could register with the local authorities to offer tuition, so even if teachers agreed not to provide the tutoring sessions, someone else would.
“If the government was able to pay [us] enough, there wouldn’t be any tuition conflicts. What’s more, if they had a rule to punish teachers who held tuition, no one would dare to do it,” said a primary school teacher.
Tuition has gained in notoriety over the years as a significant roadblock to universal education and one that unduly targets poorer families. Students who are unable to afford the extra classes or are busy helping with the family business outside regular school hours describe the discrimination they receive from teachers who allegedly favor their after-school, paying pupils.