Post-Ceasefire Education Role Thrown into Question

March 31st, 2011

By LYI HTAW – Members of the Mon National Education Department (MNED), under the control of the New Mon State Party (NMSP), will hold a meeting in Nyi Sar, near NMSP headquarters, on April 2nd and 3rd, to discuss the future fate of the existing Mon national schools in Mon State.

Students from Mon National School in southern part of Ye Township, Mon State. (Photo: IMNA )Students from Mon National School in southern part of Ye Township, Mon State. (Photo: IMNA )

The end to the ceasefire between the NMSP and the Burmese regime has caused the MNED to deliberate on whether or not they should offer their schools to the control of Mon civilians, and then change the name of the schools to Mon Civilian School. “We have considering offering our schools to Mon civilians. We will discuss this at the meeting,” said a committee member of MNED.

According to MNED statistics from 2010, there are 272 Mon national schools, of which 154 are managed by MNED, and the other 118 have a mixed curriculum of Burmese and Mon-language lessons.

MNED members have experienced difficulty travelling through regime controlled areas after the ceasefire agreement collapsed in April 2010, making it difficult for MNED to manage the schools under their control.

Some Mon community leaders have considered letting Mon Buddhist monks lead and manage the schools in order to maintain the teaching of Mon language. Other community leaders are contemplating on whether the schools should join the state-run schools in Mon State, and therefore become under the control of the Burmese regime.

“We do not agree with letting the government schools take over,” said Nai Aie Con from MNED.

In 2002, Mon classes became an integral part of the school curriculum in Mon State, which was seen as a benefit of the ceasefire agreement for Mon children.

Since the NMSP signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese junta in 1995, an informal understanding between the former Burmese Prime Minister Khin Nyunt and the NMSP, allowed the Mon language to be taught at Mon national schools and even taught at some state-run schools in Mon State.

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