Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Kawdut Headmistress' extortion

10th grade students have to give headmistress 20,000 kyat

WCRP (Rehmonnya): 10th grade students were required to pay 20,000 kyat to the headmistress in Kawdut village, Ye Township, Mon State, said a local source.

The families of the students who passed their exams were expected to each shoulder the fees; 31 of 60 students passed in March.

According to a teacher, the Kawdut headmistress said that, “this year we have to repair the school, so the students who passed the exam have to pay 20,000 kyat per each.”

Student parents became upset upon hearing about this request. One parent said, “The school is new and they built a stone school. We don’t see where the school needs repairs and why they said they have to pay for school repairs we don’t understand. In other villages, if the students pass the exam they are given a prize. We never see the other villages [pay as we do].”

The normal registration fee for the Kawdut village 10th grade students is 4,200 kyat; this cost does not include textbooks and other materials.

According to a teacher from a Mon school in Kawdut village, “when my brother attends grade 10th, we have to spend a lot of money for school costs. I may think, after 10th grade I don’t have to pay any [further] costs, but now I have to pay 20,000 kyat again. I cannot pay this money because I have no money to pay. This year is not the same as last year, because we have economic problems.”

As a result of continued economic strains, many villagers from Kawdut, a mainly agrarian community, have migrated to Thailand.

The excessive and oftentimes arbitrary school fees in Mon State have been widely reported by the Independent Mon News Agency. In a recent article they discovered that although the government education ministry claimed to provide free textbooks in Mon State, many still had to pay 3,000 kyat a piece.

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