Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Free textbooks, but not for all in Mon and Karen States

By Asah,IMNA

The Burmese education ministry has promised to supply textbooks to the grade-one students in all of Burma for free, but in Mon State and Karen State many have to buy their own.

“During the 2009-2010 school year, the government education ministry will provide 600,000 textbooks to grade-one students. The government education ministry began this project in 2001 and it will last until 2031. The cost of the textbooks is 157,497,100 kyat,” reported the Burmese Voice Weekly.

The government education ministry has provided free textbooks, but only in certain townships in Mon State. Some villages within Mudon Township have to buy them like before, said a resident from Yaung Daung, who added that the textbooks themselves were sometimes donated by international aid agencies, and they also had to pay obscure fees.

“We had to pay 4,500 kyat per student. However, we bought all of the notebooks that [were received for free] from the Unicef. So we paid for the school textbooks, but in Hneepadaw and Kwanhla, villagers only had to give 500 kyat per student registered.”

A source from Hpa-an Township, Karen State, said that the situation was equally inconsistent: some local schools received free textbooks, whereas others did not. “We paid for the textbooks 600 kyat but then in the primary school they also sold 12 notebooks per student so we paid 3,000 kyat total.”

A Mudon Township, Mon State resident noted that, although they received free textbooks in the school, they had to pay more to register than last school year. The resident also mentioned that, “my son received the textbooks for free but when [he] finishes school he has to give them back to the school.”

The cost of primary and secondary education and its overall scarcity continues to be a salient issue inside Burma.

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