Ethnic Literature – From Policy to Action

Two articles in the Myanmar press this week highlight the common disconnection between turning policy into action in the country.

A Myanmar Times article describes a new push by the Ministry of Education to formalise the positions of teachers of ethnic languages and literatures from informal instructors (paid a poverty wage of 1 dollar a day) to teaching assistants with an increase in salary.

A second piece by the Karen Information Centre, features an old friend, Saw Aye Mya, the Chairman of the Karen Culture and Literature Association in Hpa-an accusing education officials of hindering the teaching of ethnic languages and literature by moving qualified teachers away from rural areas to urban schools where such classes are not held (due to the mixed ethnicity of the classrooms)

This has been a common problem since the Ministry of Education formally allowed the teaching of ethnic languages and literature in state schools in 2013.  Often announcements will be made by the M.O.E through the press, of the allocation of funding, or the distribution of ethnic language texts or the formation of advisory committees, steps which are then blocked by local administrators on the ground.  With confusion between where the power to challenge these inconsistencies lies – the State or Union government – often in the end nothing changes.

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