Interview | Naw A--- (female, 29), C--- village, Kawkareik Township, Dooplaya District (August 2015)
The following Interview was conducted by a community member trained by KHRG to monitor local human rights conditions. It was conducted in Dooplaya District on August 2015 and is presented below translated exactly as it was received, save for minor edits for clarity and security. This interview was received along with other information from Dooplaya District, including four other interviews, one situation update, 291 photographs and seven video clips.
Name: Naw A---
Marital Status: Single
What is your name?
How old are you?
What is your ethnicity?
What is your religion?
What is your occupation?
Where do you live?
Dooplaya District, Kaw T’ree [Kawkareik] Township, H--- village tract.
Can you tell me about the information that you have told me about before?
One of the [Burma/Myanmar government] female teachers comes and teaches here. She came with her husband and her husband does not have a job so she gave one subject for her husband [to teach in the school]. We do not want her husband to teach with us as he is not a teacher.
What about other issues?
There are eight teachers and one teacher’s husband. She takes two subjects. If she cannot handle both subjects then she could ask to share them with the other teachers. She does not have to give it to her husband.
How many standards do you have in your school?
This is a primary school so there are only four standards.
How many students and how many teachers are there in the school?
There are 95 students and eight teachers.
Is this school supported by the villagers or by the [Burma/Myanmar] government?
There are five teachers that the [Burma/Myanmar] government sent and three teachers who are supported and hired by local villagers.
What about the school principal?
There are two principals: one was locally hired by villagers and another is from [the Burma/Myanmar] government, who is only a temporary assistant. If we have to select a new principal, we only want a principal from local people [villagers]. For [teachers coming from the Burma/Myanmar] government side, they don't know about the village’s situation.
What is the teacher’s husband’s name?
His name is B---. I think that if she [his wife] cannot handle the subjects then she should give them to the other teachers and not to her husband. Do we have the right to say that, ‘as you are not a teacher you should not interrupt your wife,’ or is that not okay for us to say?
Do you want to talk to him about this?
Not personally, but if possible, I want the school committee and relevant responsible person to have a meeting and discuss it. Or can we talk about it with him ourselves?
Can you tell me about your feelings and the challenges with your work?
Some people think that he can teach very well because he is educated and we think the same. However, he has not been given any responsibility or authority for anything [in the school] so he should not been involved in the school.
What about the village’s situation?
Some people think that we do not like the teacher's husband and they think we complain too much. I think I am making this complaint in the right way. It does not mean that we do not like him.
Are there are any other issues?
There have been no consultations for the water distribution project. They have not held any meetings or informed villagers in C--- village when submitting proposals to the Burma/Myanmar government. When the government approved [their proposals] they just came and installed the pipes and started their project without speaking with the villagers. Some pipes go under villagers’ houses, go through villagers’ plantations and villagers’ land so many people are not happy about this and it will be difficult for them to find water during the summer season.
Are they any armed groups [that are active in your area]?
No, only villagers from K--- village. They come and take water from C--- village.
Did they come and talk to villagers before they took water from C--- village?
Yes, they did but villagers from C--- [village] did not agree to it. But they did it anyway.
Is there anything else you want to say?
Villagers do not have [much] income from their business activities to earn money for a living, but they still have to pay taxes and support the teachers that [the Burma/Myanmar] government sent to the village.
How did they collect money?
Each month, they [village committee members] go to each household and collected two bowls of rice and one basket of charcoal. The school committee also had to provide accommodation for them [Burma/Myanmar government teachers] but the government had also given them money to build a house to live in as well as a salary.
How much salary do they get per month?
They get more than 200,000 kyat [US $158.51] per month. We do not know exactly how much it is.
What about the locally-hired teachers?
Each household gives each of them three bags of rice per year. The Kaw Thoo Lei education department [Karen Education Department] also provide them with a stipend of 7,500 baht [US $212.62] per year. They are paid a stipend based on the number of students. If they have more students, they are paid more. But now, even though there are more students, the number of teachers has also increased so we get much less because we have to share [the total] amongst ourselves.
Does the KNU’s [Karen National Union] education department also provide money to the [Burma/Myanmar] government teachers as well?
No, they only give money to the locally-hired teachers.
I just want to check, is it only the households who send their children to school that have to provide three bags of rice?
Every household has to provide it, the whole village. For a widow or an orphan, we do not ask for the same amount. It depends on their situation and whether they can pay it or not. If they can’t pay it, that’s fine.
Our village’s school was constructed and supported by the villagers, the school teachers and our monks so I think we should only hang our Karen [national] flag. The [Burma/Myanmar] government teachers do not like that and they want to hang the Burmese [Burma/Myanmar national] flag in front of the school instead of the Karen [national] flag. Regarding the subjects that are taught, the [Burma/Myanmar] government only allow us to teach Karen language up to Standard 2. In Standards 3 and 4, they do not allow us to teach [Karen language]. In the past we taught Karen [language] but since two years ago we have not been allowed to teach it at Standards 3 or 4.
When did the Burmese [Burma/Myanmar] government teachers arrive [in your village]?
Two years ago. [Now] we teach both subjects provided by the KNU and the [Burma/Myanmar] government. We do not just teach [the subjects] from the [Burma/Myanmar] government or the KNU.
In the past the KNU came and provided medicine for children, for example preventions, worm prevention and vitamins that keep eyes healthy but I do not know the name of the medicine. [They used to provide this medicine] every six months but now they know that the [Burma/Myanmar] government now provides us [with some medicine] so they do not come as regularly as before.
In this village, do any armed groups come and oppress the villagers?
How many armed groups are there in this village?
Just the DKBA [Democratic Karen Benevolent Army].
Anything else? What about electricity and water?
We want solar panels for the villagers.
Has the village head submitted a proposal [to the Burma/Myanmar government] for the villagers to get solar panels?
Yes, but they did not respond to us.
If possible, we [teachers] want a computer for our school. Right now we have to write exam questions for the students by hand. If there were fewer students, it would be easy for us, but when the number of students increased we have had to work longer hours, so if we had a computer it may make it easier for us to do our work.
Ok thank you very much if you do not have anything else to say.