Following the extremists terrorist attacks in the Buthidaung and Maungtaw regions in October 2016, the Rakhine government transferred female teachers in far-off rural areas to towns and started employing educated male youths returning from Malaysia, Thailand and Phakant who were interested in teaching. The age limit of 30 years was raised to 35 and they were employed as teachers on the basis of a daily rate paid monthly. Those employed as teachers in this way were then employed on a permanent basis starting in August. These teachers underwent 10 days of kindergarten and Grade 1 training in Maungtaw Basic Education High School No. (2).
The following are interviews conducted with four of these teachers.
U Than Shwe (Maungtaw Township, Garabrun Post Primary School)
I returned from Malaysia after working there. There was an advertisement for teachers from the Maungtaw education department. My parents urged me to enter into this profession. Earlier, there wasn’t much recruitment for teachers. This job is for those under 35 years of age. In the past, it was for under-30 years old. Now it was raised to 35 years and I became interested. I plan to work permanently as a teacher.
U Zaw Han Tun (Buthidaung Township, Latpankaing Village Primary School)
Before I got this job, I worked abroad. I faced many difficulties when I went to work in other countries. I like the rules and regulations set by my government and like the closeness of the staff. I’m also interested in this job so I ended up working in it. In other countries, I had to follow their rules and I became fearful. I don’t feel safe. I went to work there because I don’t have anything but I’m afraid for my life. (This job) is filling in the requirement of my country and my government. I’m also interested so I take up this job.
U Khin Tun Maung (Upper Kwe Chaung Primary School, Buthidaung Township)
I’m teaching young Khami ethnic children. As they are ethnic children, I have some language difficulties. But I’m trying my best by teaching together with local teachers. Before this job, I worked in Malaysia for seven years. Even though I’m a graduate, I have to take menial basic jobs so it was not convenient. As we are foreigners, we were treated differently and looked down upon. We had to do the most basic jobs.
U Zeyar Chit Myat Oo
I’m teaching second-grade children in Maung Hna Ma Village sub middle school, Maungtaw Township. I was born in Taungup, Rakhine State. The village in which I taught previously was burnt. As the students are not ethnic Rakhine, it is a bit difficult to teach. Everything is OK to teach students in this school. Before I became a teacher, I worked in a company in Yangon for six years. While working there, I learnt of the plan to employ teachers here and I applied for it. I got the opportunity of participating in the development of my region and became a teacher. so I’m proud and honoured about this.
Of the 543 teachers who attended the kindergarten and Grade 1 training, 452 were male.
By Myint Maung, Zeyar
Photo: Ne Win Tun