Govt to Provide Monastic Schools with 3 Billion Kyat

By Chit Hsu 10 May 2013

For the first time in history, the Burmese government will provide 3 billion kyat (US$3.3 million) in financial support to monastic schools across the country, according to the Ministry of Religions Affairs.

Soe Min Htun, the deputy director-general of the Department for the Promotion and Propagation of Sasana at the ministry, told The Irrawaddy that the assistance will go toward teachers’ salaries in the 2013-14 school year.

“The government will provide the allotted budget of 3 billion kyat to monastic schools in different states and divisions through the [Ministry of Religions Affairs],” said the deputy director-general. “The assistance will be shared among those schools with the supervision of leading abbots in respective states and divisions. I am not sure if the administration will continue it for the next school year.”

He added that the government would begin providing the financial support in June.

Some abbots and a number of people working with Burma’s education sector told The Irrawaddy that they were pleased to learn of the forthcoming assistance.

“We have been relying on ourselves to run monastic schools, so I felt relieved after hearing that the government will support us,” said U Nayaka, the abbot from the Paungdawoo monastic school in Mandalay Division. “I want the assistance to be continued in coming years as well. I wonder if the current support is enough to cover all since there are a lot of such schools in the whole country.”

According to statics from some monastic schools, teachers at primary, middle and high school levels are typically paid salaries of 38,000 kyat, 45,000 kyat and 50,000 kyat, respectively.

In the past, monastic schools have primarily relied on donations from businesses and well-wishers to pay for their teachers’ salaries.

“Our company allotted a three-year budget for those schools but we have already spent for the past two years,” said Win Swe, who heads up philanthropic activities for Shine Hope Company.

“We encourage them to stand on their own in the long run. Since the government is about to support them, donors like us will be able to increase our assistance to other needy areas besides salaries.”

Even though primary education is free for every child in Burma, monastic schools still reportedly serve as the main source of education for orphans and most children from low-income families.

According to statics from the Ministry of Religions Affairs, there are 1,579 monastic schools, of which most are primary level, in operation across Burma.