Forced Government School Closures Place Increases Student Numbers Enrolling at Htee Ther Leh High School School – Shortage of Dorm Beds, Food and Text Books

Closure of Government run schools by the military appointed State Administration Council is placing stress on Karen Education and Cultural Department (KECD) run schools. The number of pupil enrolling for the current academic year have more than doubled.

By Naw Eh Eh/Karen News

Teachers at Htee Ther Leh High School in Maw Kee Village Tract of Kawkareik Township, Doo Pla Ya District in Karen State told Karen News these new challenges have placed enormous strain on school resources needed for the academic year 2021-2022.

Htee Ther Leh School is located in the Eastern Dawna Range area and operates under the KECD. Since the number of students had increased during this academic year, the school finding it challenging as there is not enough textbooks, notebooks and classrooms.

Naw Moo Moo Eh, Htee Ther Leh School principal explained to Karen News that now state-run schools have been closed and her school is the only high school in the area students from nearby primary schools have enrolled to gain entry to higher grades.

Naw Moo Moo Eh said parents were concerned at the impact the closure of government schools would have on their children’s education.

“Government schools are now closed in our areas. So, parents are desperate to find ways for their children to continue their education. Other villages do not have a high school in their village, we are the only one. Parents have enrolled their children in our school to finish their high school education. As a result of this, numbers of students at our school are growing and there are not enough school materials for them.”

Naw Moo Moo Eh said as Htee Ther Leh School takes in boarders as well as day students the facilities are now stretched beyond its original capacity.

“We used to have only 90 students in the dormitory, but this year there will be 193. Foods supplies and living spaces are also becoming a difficult issue. We still have food for our students, but not enough for everyone, so we don’t know what will happen in the near future.”

Teachers at Htee Ther Leh School, said their school is supported largely by KECD. This support includes school materials and teachers’ stipends. Teachers pointed out to Karen News the KECD support for students in the 2021-2022 academic year is now not enough as the budget was based on the estimated number of students from the previous year.

Teachers told Karen News the increase in students has meant there is not enough textbooks and other teaching materials for all students. Teachers have tried to supplement school supplies needed for students by asking students to donate towards the costs as well as getting students to share textbooks.

Naw Christ Paw Htoo, a student from Htee Ther Leh School explained.

“The textbooks and other teaching materials provided are not enough for all students. Teachers have had to collect money from students in order to buy books for us. When the teacher assigns homework, it is difficult for me because I have to share textbook with a friend.”

In addition to KECD providing teachers’ stipends, support for teachers from communities, local officers from the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army and villagers contribute food and money to the teachers to supplement support given by KECD.

Schoolteachers stressed school supplies and equipment were not the only concern. Accommodation, food supplies and resources needed to care for students who boarded in the school’s dormitory were now not enough. Many students attending Htee Ther Leh School come from remote places and need to live in Htee Ther Leh dormitory. Dormitory space was stretched breaking point teachers told Karen News.

Despite the difficulties, teachers at Htee Ther Leh School said they are hopeful conditions will improve and they are optimistic more support for the schools will come.

Saw Baw Nay Say, the school coordinator said.

“We expects our school and dormitory buildings will get the necessary improvements in the future, as well as our education system.”

Htee Ther Leh School was established in 1997. There are more than 300 students and 21 teachers at the school for the academic year 2021-2022. According to figures from the previous academic year, there were a 1,361 basic education schools, five college level post-10 schools with 3,900 teachers and over 100,000 students under the KECD education system.

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