“We Want Our Children To Learn Karen…”

Karen communities urge the Karen National Union (KNU) to push the Burmese government to allow their native language to be taught in schools.

Community leaders and elders said Karen villages in the government control area want the right to teach their native language.

At a recent meeting in the KNU’s Mergui-Tavoy district, in Southern Burma, villager representatives encouraged its political leaders to negotiate with the regional Burmese government in Tanintharyi Division for children to be taught Karen language at schools.

The KNU Mergui-Tavoy District chairman P’doh Saw Beeler told Karen News.

“At the meeting the elders urged us [the KNU] to talk with the government to allow children to learn their native language. They also asked that children be allowed to wear Karen dress once a week. We will make a time to talk with the regional Burmese government to try to find a way to let it happen.”

P’doh Saw Beeler said most Karen villages try to teach the Karen language, but it does not have the recognition of the government. Many villages fear that the government will take action against them if they don’t have official recognition.

The local Karen Education Department (KED) officials called on its central organisation to meet with government education officers as soon as possible to get permission for a number of banned activities to be allowed.

The local KED office wants the Karen flag to be flown at schools that are the under the joint control of the KED and the government, schools to be allowed to teach the Karen language within the school curriculum and that Karen student certificates of further education should be recognized.

KED chairman Pa Doh Saw Lah Say indicated that he did not expect to see changes to the education system made quickly.

“The current education situation is connected to the peace process, and implementation will need to go slowly, step by step”.

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