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Mon Students Union Urges Government to Acknowledge Ethnic National Schools

The Mon State Students Union released a statement on Sunday, 1st February calling for national schools that have been running in ethnic areas for nearly four decades to be recognized under the National Education Law Charter 6, Article 43.

Mon State parliamentarian Dr. Aung Naing Oo in discussion

The Mon State Student Union released its statement at the conclusion of its meeting. The meeting was held over two days, 31st January to 1st February, at the Taung-Bauk Monastery, Moulmein, Mon State, and focused on discussions regarding the teaching of native ethnic languages at national schools, and challenges for the education system.

“The main matter is the teaching of native ethnic languages. Our country has ethnic national schools, a number of which are located far away from urban areas. If the nationwide education [system] is mentioned, it is necessary that those schools be recognized,” said Ko Phone Myat Moe, director of the Mon State Student Union’s working committee.

Ko Phone Myat Moe continued that the student union bought up this issue because ethnic national schools are located in remote, rural, ethnic areas and have yet to be recognized by the country’s education law.

Schools currently recognized under Article 34, Charter 6 of the Education Law include government, government-supported, regionally-run, private, monastic, and emergency schools; as well as other schools recognized exclusively by specific ministries or departments.

Ethnic national schools teach native ethnic, Burmese, and English languages. According to Min Thein Win of the National Network for Education Reform (NNER), who attended the student union meeting, students would benefit greatly if the government were to recognize ethnic national schools and provide the schools with funding.

“It is possible to recognize those ethnic national schools under the education bill. Why can they not be recognized?… They [the government] are just working to make ethnic schools disappear gradually…those schools are already there, so if the government recognized them, it would be really great for ethnic groups,” said Min Thein Win.

The Mon State Students Union’s statement advocated 11 points that students are calling for nationwide, including the formation of a democratic education system, the implementation of education bills for teaching native, Burmese and foreign languages, and the recognition of ethnic languages as school languages.

The Mon State Students’ Union was founded on 26th December 2014. Last weekend’s meeting represented the group’s first steps in challenging the education system and fighting for the instruction of ethnic languages in national schools since the group’s inception.