Ethnic languages to be taught ‘after hours’ in state schools

Ethnic languages to be taught ‘after hours’ in state schools

Ethnic languages are set to be included in state primary schools’ curriculum during the 2013-14 educational year; however, the classes will be held outside of normal school hours.

In accordance with new legislation that was announced by Burma’s Minister for Education Mya Aye last June, students in the country’s ethnic regions will be taught their respective languages through the second grade.

According to Mon state’s Minister of Culture Min Nwe Soe, the union government will now allow government schools to teach Mon literature as a part of their curriculum, as long as its outside of school hours.

“Previously, we were instructed to translate Burmese language curriculum for kindergarten and the first and second grades into Mon language, but it was inconvenient for our experts due to difference in the culture and traditions,” said Min Nwe Soe.

“So we picked out this [textbook] prepared by the government in the past and sent it to the union government. So far, we learnt there are procedures being made to introduce [ethnic languages] when the schools open this year.”

In Arakan state, Thandoway-based Buddhist monk Ashin Kuthala who is helping draft the state’s curriculum said Arakanese textbooks should be available for students from kindergarten to second grade this term.

However, other administrators in the country’s ethnic states said the government has been unresponsive and has yet to approve their new curriculum.

Nang Woe Hseng from the Shan Syllabus Drafting Committee said a draft of their Shan curriculum was submitted to the government last February; however, they have yet to receive any feedback from the government.

“We sent the [draft] to the President, Shan State’s Chief Minister and the Union Education Minister as well as to every existing Shan literature and social organisations,” said Nang Woe Hseng.

“We are still waiting for their response but there is not much due to difficulties with transportation, so we are going to wait until the end of the month and then call a meeting.”

Much to the chagrin of the country’s minority groups, the Burmese language has been exclusively taught at all state schools, which has helped fuel continued mistrust between Burma’s myriad ethnic groups and the country’s majority Burman population.

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