Right to cultural education for Karen minority stalled

A Karen network is urging the authorities to continue a project to restore Karen culture in the educational system after five years without progress.

On Wednesday, 23 March 2016, Surapong Kongchantuk, Chairman of the Lawyers Council of Thailand's Human Rights Subcommittee on Ethnic Minorities, reported that 9 leaders of the Karen Network for Culture and the Environment visited the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education to ask for progress in the project to restore the Karen way of life.

The project is a part of a 2010 cabinet resolution, but little progress has been made.

The Network also urged the authorities to proceed with a project to provide education for those not registered as Thai citizens.

Kamjorn Tatiyakawee, the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Education, said that the Ministry is concerned about ethnic minorities. So far, the Ministry has proceeded with the project by maintaining small-sized schools and establishing bilingual and multilingual schools.

Kamjorn also proposed a project to allow local schools to recruit teachers by themselves. This project will help local schools hire teachers in accordance to their community’s need.

The Ministry of Education will take the educational rights of non-Thai citizens as an important issue and will appoint a committee to handle this issue, said Kamjorn.

The 2010 cabinet resolution on Karen cultural education is a policy to restore the Karen way of life.

The resolution states that the Education Ministry has seven responsibilities, including allowing local Karen communities to determine their local school syllabus, supporting Karen teachers by easing recruitment criteria of local public school teachers and maintaining small schools in rural areas.