Teacher A---, 45, is a village schoolteacher in eastern Thaton district. He wants to teach Karen language to the children in the school but the SPDC authorities have forbidden him from doing so. The SPDC forces all subjects to be taught in Burmese. Ironically, teachers are allowed to teach foreign languages like English but not Burma's own languages apart from Burmese. The second photo of Kway Lay school in Bilin township, Thaton district was taken on May 26 th 2005. The villagers were forced to provide all the materials and build the school, then to pay for all of its running costs, yet the SPDC calls it a government-supported school and claims credit for it. [Photos: KHRG]
Photo 11-2 (above) shows K--- village primary school north of Papun town. It is in an SPDC-controlled village and operates with SPDC permission, but some of the children are sent by displaced families living beyond SPDC control in the hills. The teacher fears that with the building of new SPDC roads into the hills (see photos 7-1 through 7-4 ), these children's families may have to flee further away and their children will no longer be able to attend school. The children in photo 11-3 (above right) walk one hour each way every day from their families' homes hidden in the forest to attend school, and gather firewood on their way home every evening. The nine year old boy in photo 11-4 (right) was walking one hour each way to attend the school every day, but his parents fear that it is too far, too risky and they may have to move at any time, so when these photos were taken in December 2005 he had stopped attending school and now spends his time taking care of his baby brother. [Photos: KHRG]
Children in H--- village, Dweh Loh township, Papun district in May 2005. There is no school in their area so they cannot study. The SPDC does not support any schools nearby and if the villagers or the KNU try to establish schools they are deliberately destroyed by SPDC troops. [Photos: KHRG]
Karen students studying in a village middle school, Lu Thaw township, Papun district. These schools are often targeted for destruction because they are not SPDC-controlled, and they often have to close when SPDC troops are active in the area and villagers have to go into the forest. The second Photo shows the primary school at L--- in Papun district in August 2005. The villagers run this school themselves with local teachers and little outside support. The school is close to an army camp occupied by SPDC Infantry Battalion #42, so it frequently has to close. The last photo shows Students and the teacher of Hee Ko Theh primary school in Papun district pose in front of their school. This school can only open when there is not much SPDC activity in the area; some years it is entirely closed. In difficult times parents need their children to care for younger siblings and do other work for the family, and may only feel able to spare one child for schooling – in such situations it is usually boys who are sent to school, as reflected in the high proportion of boys in this photo. [Photos: KHRG]
Students at Tee Mu Kee school in Lu Thaw township, Papun district, in June 2005. The school goes from kindergarten to high school (10 th Standard), but it gets very little outside support. Each student has to give 5,000 Kyat and one big tin (12.5 kg/27.5 lb) of rice per year to support the teachers. Many of the students hire themselves out for labour to get money for books and pens. The teachers receive only 120,000 Kyat (about US$120) per year, so they need to be supplied with food. This provides little incentive to finish high school and become a teacher. The last photo shows these children in Thay P'Kee Der village in Papun district say they would like to go to school, but there is no teacher so they cannot study. [Photos: KHRG]
Naw R---, 17 (right), and Naw S---, 25 (below) are schoolteachers in Papun district. The villagers try to provide them with food as payment for teaching but are usually unable to provide enough. Naw R--- lives in a house the villagers built for her, where she raises chickens as a way to get money to go home during the school holidays. On August 28 th 2005, SPDC troops from Light Infantry Division #44, Infantry Battalion #207 Column 2 came and stayed a night in the village, and the next morning they stole four of her chickens. She says she didn't dare complain for fear of retaliation. The second photo shows Naw S--- also receives very little for her work, yet when the same SPDC Column came to the village where she teaches on October 9 th 2005 they stole her watch from the cloth bag in her house when she wasn't there. She can't afford to buy a new watch so now she has to constantly borrow watches from other people in order to teach her classes on time. [Photos: KHRG]
Seventeen year old Saw T--- is in 8 th Standard (Grade 8). He is from the Irrawaddy Delta but his father died and he has many siblings, so his family could no longer afford to send him to school. They sent him with his grandfather into the Karen hills, and his grandfather asked the KNU district authorities to support his schooling in one of their local schools. Many parents in both plains and hill villages send their children of all ages to KNU areas and ask for help in sending them to school. The second photo shows Naw M--- is from W--- village in Dweh Loh township, Papun district. She says she wants to go to school but her parents cannot afford to send her. This photo was taken in August 2005. [Photos: KHRG]
This public water pipe and the toilet block at Kler Lah middle school in Toungoo district were built with funding from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the only international agency to have a presence in Toungoo district. The ICRC in Kler Lah has local but no expatriate staff and focuses on small-scale projects like these. No projects occur in any village except Kler Lah, causing people in other villages to comment that the ICRC presence is making no difference. Villagers in Kler Lah say that the ICRC projects have been beneficial but have had no effect on the monthly extortion and forced labour demanded of them by the SPDC, or the food and goods shortages they face every time the SPDC closes the roads. [Photos: KHRG]
- 18 total of photos.
- Last update: 28 June 2017
- Toungoo (Taw Oo) District
- Hpapun (Mutraw) District
- Thaton (Doo Tha Htoo) District
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