Students Struggle Without Text Books in Naga Self-Administered Region

By Network Media Group
Saturday, September 9, 2023

Students living in the Naga Self-Administered Zone in Sagaing Region are halfway through their academic year and still waiting for their textbooks. Parents told NMG their children are discouraged from attending classes because they can’t study.

One mother, whose eldest son is enrolled in Grade 12 in the town of Lahe, says he still goes to class every day even though he doesn’t have a textbook. But not everyone feels the same, she said. “A student told me yesterday that he wanted to quit school because he didn’t have any books for his classwork.”

After a lengthy delay caused by lockdowns during the pandemic and political unrest that caused schools to close across the country when teachers and students joined the protest movement against the military regime, some schools opened, including with the introduction of Grade 11 and 12 classes to the region.

A teacher at a government school, requesting anonymity out of concern for her security, said only the higher grades don’t have the books for the students, with the exception of biology and physics.

“The books can’t be delivered to Lahe because of political unrest,” she explained. Since the military coup, many armed groups have formed in Sagaing Region to fight against the ruling Military Council. She also said that roads to the hilly region are poor.

“We have to buy the textbooks and guidebooks for teachers from Nanyun (township). Currently, we are downloading PDFs and printing them here to teach our students,” the source said, explaining they have to use a lot of paper, which many students can’t afford to pay for.
As an entire book costs about $20, many students are taking photos of the pages on their phones and studying this way, and it is really difficult for them.

A man, also requesting anonymity, said another problem is there aren’t enough teachers in the area. “Teachers from the middle schools are also teaching at high schools,” he said, adding that Grade 10 students are also being offered employment at schools, even those who failed their final exam.

Parents worry their kids won’t be prepared for university because they don’t have the study materials in their senior years of high school. A total of 239 high school students took their final examination for the 2022–2023 academic year, but only 81 passed.