Tensions flare after Department of Basic Education attempts takeover of Mon National School

June 17, 2019

HURFOM: Without first informing the Mon National Education Committee (MNEC), on June 6th 2019, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) placed a placard in front of a Mon National School in Ye Ngan Gyi village, Yebyu Township, Tenasserim division. The placard stated that the school, which hosts some 50 students, was now operated by the DBE. As stated by Nai Rot Ka Kao, a member of the MNEC, the decision to place the placard in front of the school without first informing the MNEC could lead to conflict between the two bodies. The DBE operates under the authority of the Union-level Ministry of Education and promotes a Bamar-centric curricula.

According to reports, the placard was planted in front of the school by Yebyu Township lawmaker U Kyi Soe, the administrator of Min Thar village track, a teacher from Moe Gyi village, and the administrator of Moe Gyi village.

We didn’t know they were going to place the sign in front of the school…They didn’t inform us. We have done our best to support this school and keep it operating. We’ve supported the teachers and have tried to provide a quality school building. It’s completely unacceptable for the government to seize this school after we’ve worked so hard. These actions could lead to conflict between us,” said Nai Rot Ka Kao.

Neither the MNEC, the teachers working at the school, nor the MNEC Township Education Department were informed of the takeover.

This is not how things should work. There must be mutual respect, but they don’t acknowledge us…They don’t care about us. We can’t tolerate this decision. What they’ve done is like seizing or confiscating our school. They want to control the ethnic people [Mon populations],” continued Nai Rot Ka Kao.

However, the head of the DBE for Tenasserim Division stated that both the village and village track administrators requested the DBE to assume operation of the school.

The villagers signed an agreement saying they wanted to school to become a government-run school. About 40 villagers signed the agreement some time ago. Now, the government [Ministry of Education] has approved the request,” stated Nai Inn, the administrator of Ye Ngan Gai village.

When asked by HURFOM why villagers wanted the DBE to take over operations, Nai Inn stated that he did not know why villagers had made such a request.

The village administrator and some villagers had told me that they wanted this school to be operated by the DBE. I think it’s because they thought a government-run school would be free and didn’t realize that a government school would also collect fees. The Mon National Schools don’t have the financial support they need so parents have to pay for stationery and to support school infrastructure, so this is why they wanted the Mon national school to be run by the DBE,” said Mi Mar Cho, a Mon national school teacher based in Yebyu Township

Officials from the MNEC have informed villagers that if the Mon National School becomes a government-run school, a Mon language curriculum will no longer be provided.

We can do nothing if the villagers want to government to run the school, but we want to explain the real situation to villagers. We, Mon people, are a minority. We want to preserve our Mon schools and Mon literature. I want to make them understand this situation,” said Nai Rot Ka Kao.

The placard was removed on June 6th, the very day it was erected. Even so, Nai Rot Ka Kao stated that MNEC officials would soon meet with the DBE for Tenasserim Division to further discuss the situation.

News of the DBE’s attempted takeover of the Mon National School in Ye Ngan Gyi village follows shortly after it was announced that nearly 70 percent of Mon National Schools are in no condition to accept students, and that the MNEC have yet to obtain textbooks for the 2019–2020 school year.

There are approximately 12 Mon National Schools in Yebyu Township, Tenasserim Division.

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