Mawlamyine Conference Aims to Form Ethnic Education Network

 ‘We will seek common ground and then we will demand our rights through it,’ says a Shan participant.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

A two-day seminar in Mawlamyine, Mon State brought together education specialists and representatives of ethnic literature and culture committees to discuss how to further ethnic language education in Burma.

The Interethnic Regional Education seminar took place from June 24-25 to form a network from among the Karen, Mon, Pa-O and Shan participants. Representatives from other ethnic communities in Burma reportedly could not attend this week’s seminar due to difficulties in transportation reaching Mawlamyine.

“We discussed what kind of difficulties we have and how to overcome these difficulties in teaching ethnic literature. We also discussed how to cooperate between people who are working for ethnic literature and culture committees and for mother tongue-based multilingual education,” the Mon National Education Committee’s Min Aung Zay told NMG. “We discussed how all ethnic people can participate in this process, including parliamentarians, government, political parties, civil society organizations and advocates,” he added.

Min Aung Zay said that the participants in the seminar would propose a discussion in the Union Parliament on private ethnic language schools and mother tongue-based schools.

Sai Khun Tun San, a Shan delegate, said that in the conference he learned from the Mon and Karen how to implement and develop mother tongue-based teaching in the schools.

“We discussed how to [recognize] mother tongue-based language learning schools because we don’t teach subjects in the Burmese language. Our students cannot take the examinations managed by government, so our children don’t have opportunities,” Sai Khun Tun San explained. “We came to cooperate with the Mon and Karen. We will seek common ground and then we will demand our rights through it. We will share all the benefits among all ethnic people.”

Under the Mon National Education Committee, there are more than 130 mother tongue-based schools and more than 90 schools that are teaching in the students’ mother tongue but are affiliated with government schools. There are more than 30,000 students learning in these schools.