Thai Burma Border Schools Battle Shortage of Teachers and Learning Materials

Schools run by the Karen Education Department (KED) on the Karen State border with Thailand, are facing a massive shortage of teaching materials.

Saw Law Eh Moo, the Secretary of the KED, in an interview with Karen News said the education system does not have enough teachers, books or funds.

“KED’s does not have enough curriculum materials for students and in some areas there is a severe shortage of teachers. We still don’t have enough for this academy year.”

Saw Law Eh Moo said KED needed economic help solve the school education problems in Karen State and on the border. Financial support is the most significant factor that would solve this problem,” Saw Law Eh Moo said at an official meeting held every three months at Thay Bay Hta, Karen National Union Brigade 7.

More than 100 officials from the Karen Education Department from seven districts in Karen State attended the meetings held at Thay Bay Hta.

Saw Law Eh Moo said KED plans to meet and discuss with KNU officials, Karen State Ministers and officials from the [government’s] state education department to try to find a solution to the funding shortage for teaching materials and teachers.

According to KED statistics there are 235 schools teaching its curriculum in Karen State, while another 354 schools are partnered with the Burma government. A further 704 schools are directly run by the Burma government. Altogether there are 1,293 schools and 6,156 teachers in Karen State this year.

Saw Plet Htoo, the secretary of the Hpa-an District Karen Education Department, outlined the problems of merging the Karen and Burma government education systems.

“There are fewer numbers of students and teachers from our schools. The government provided five extra teachers to each school. Most of the government teachers are graduates with a recognized diploma. This we find that our [Kare] teachers are discriminated from Burmese teachers with certificates.”

Saw Plet Htoo noted that other challenges facing Karen teachers is that, “they [government teachers] can’t speak the Karen language. They are teaching only in the Burmese language, the children find this difficult, especially those who do not understand the Burmese language, and they become unhappy with their study and some have left school.”

The Karen Education Department (KED) is under the Karen National Union (KNU) and has been contributing educational materials and teachers for more than 140,000 students from 26 townships in Eastern Burma for more than 14 years.

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