Karen Ethnic Affair Minister in Mon State Pushes for Karen Identity in Names

To encourage ethnic Karen students to register their names at the start of school enrolment, the Karen Ethnic Affairs Minister of Mon State sent a notification letter to township general administration offices on May 26, 2020 to inform parents, village leaders and Karen Literacy and Cultural Committee.

The Mon State’s Karen Ethnic Affair Minister notification letter was sent following a directive by the Ministry of Education on 1st April, 2020 to all Basic Education Department of States and Regions to register names of students according to their ethnicity.

Saw Aung Myint Khaing, the Karen Ethnic Affair Minister for Mon State said past problems using ethnic names resulted in the new register.

“There have been complaints made in putting symbolic names for Karen children. Now it’s the time we encouraged them to use their ethnic honorific name. And when parents enroll their children at school we want them to take it serious.”

Karen people use the equivalent of Ms. as ‘Naw’ for S’gaw sub-dialect and Nan and Nant for East and West Pwo sub-dialect respectively. For male, they use the equivalent of Mr as ‘Saw’ for Sgaw and East Pwo sub-dialect and ‘Mahn’ and ‘Sa’ for West Pwos sub-dialect.

Saw Aung Myint Khaing encouraged all the Karen ethnic students to use their honorific names at the school registration for the academic year 2020/21.

Speaking to Karen News, Saw Aung Khaing said. “Parents used to come to the immigration office and tell us about mistakes made in their names that caused them problems. Some people thought that they couldn’t change it. Since the Union Ministry is encouraging education departments, we encouraged them to be careful about the use of their honorifics name and not to forget it.”

Saw Aung Myint Khaing said that in order to avoid mistakes, Karen parents have to be careful about their date of birth and identity card numbers. And when they register their children in the upcoming academic year, parents need to be aware of adding their children honorific names.

There are 10 townships in Mon State, Karen people live in eight of the Townships such as Thaton, Bilin, Kyaikmara, Paung, Ye, Kyaikto, Chaungzon and Thanbyuzayat. Among these townships, Thaton township has an estimated 80,000 Karen people. Citing data from the State’s general administration department, the Karen Ethnic Affair Minister said Karen in Mon State number around 300,000.

The Karen Ethnic Affair Minister of Ayeyarwaddy Region has also written a letter to all township general administration chiefs to reinforce the directive from the Department of Basic Education.

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