Teachers in the Chin State capital of Hakha have said that if the government does not reconsider its order to extend the academic year through March, they will “launch a strong movement” against it.
On Sunday, nearly 100 teachers and students in Hakha protested the Ministry of Education order and changes to the examination schedule.
“We are still waiting to see how the government will respond to us. If the situation does not change, we will launch a strong movement again,” primary school teacher Thein Zaw Win told Khonumthung News.
Demonstrators demanded that the extension of the school year be canceled, that vocational education be upgraded, and that the management of schools be implemented more democratically. They also called on changes to be take into consideration the work load on teachers, and rulings which they said “ignore the difficulties of the local context.”
The education ministry announced the extension of academic year from the end of February until March 31, but after it was met with objection, amended it to March 25.
Under the new schedule, students from Grade 4 and Grade 8 will take their final exams between February 24 and March 3. Grade 10 students must take their exams between March 11 and March 20. Other students will be tested between March 23 and 25.
“Everybody knows Chin State is a poor state. The local people are mostly farmers. They start farming in March. So it remains unsure whether all students are going to take their exams at that time,” Salai Law Nine, chairman of the Hakha Education College students’ union, said. “Generally, there is no high school in the remote villages in Chin State, so parents will have to pay more boarding fees for their students. For those in a poor area, it’s not convenient,” he added.
Chin State’s social welfare minister said that the teachers should be listened to.
“I think we need to consider their demands. As far as I know, teachers also protested against [the extension]in Magwe,” he told Khonumthung News. “Depending on the situation, we are ready to help.”
The Union’s education ministry has said that school holidays will be during the months of April and May. With the exception of grades 4, 8, and 10, all other students will have to attend classes until March 25.