Chronic Dropouts, Dire Conditions in Mon Schools: Report

By Yen Saning 3 June 2015

RANGOON — Education in rural Mon areas remains inaccessible for children from poor families and village schools are chronically under-resourced, according to a report released on Tuesday by the research arm of the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM).

The Women and Child Rights Project’s (WCRP) findings, focused around education dropout rates and resource constraints, highlight the significant challenges faced by students and teachers in rural Mon areas.

“We wanted to know why children keep dropping out of school,” said Min Banyar Oo, HURFOM’s program assistant. “We’ve found that those that drop out have parents who find it difficult to support themselves and the schools themselves do not have sufficient resources. These areas often used to be conflict zones.”

The report interviewed close to 150 people from Mon village communities across Ye Township in Mon State, Kyainseikgyi Township in Karen State and Yebyu Township in Tenasserim Division. Researchers documented the challenges faced by students and teachers in government basic education schools, Mon national schools run by the Mon National Education Committee (MNEC), and ‘mixed’ schools run by both but with a predominant role given to the Ministry of Education.

Of the 88 children to drop out of education interviewed by the project, more that three quarters said that their main reason for leaving school was family economic difficulties. Over a third dropped out before completing primary school, and of the 23 schools surveyed, around two-thirds said they were struggling with insufficient education materials and teaching staff.

“While MNEC schools suffered the greatest deficiencies, significant problems were also noted in government-led schools,” the report said.

The WCRP has urged the Burmese government to increase education spending, and the New Mon State Party to develop an education reform policy in concern with the MNEC. The group also recommended that ethnic armed groups and the Burmese government incorporate education reform discussions into the peace process, in recognition of barriers to education in former conflict zones.