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Monastery stops free education service

DVB, February 5, 2008

Rangoon, Burma -- A free tuition service at Ngway Kyar Yan monastery in South Okkalapa township, Rangoon, that provided extra classes to students from 10 townships in the surrounding area, has been suspended.

Ngway Kyar Yan monastery has been inviting respected tutors to teach extra classes at the monastery every year for the past 14 years, and around 2,000 to 3,000 students have attended each year.

Burmese students often rely on outside tuition to supplement the low
standard of teaching in schools, but many are unable to afford a private

The monastery was running its classes in the lead-up to the grade 10
exams, which are the level required for university entrance and take place in February each year, and monks were able to get popular teachers to provide their services to the monastery free of charge.

One student said that educational opportunities for poorer students would suffer without the free classes.

“This is very bad for students who cannot afford to pay private tutors,
because the education programme at Ngway Kyar Yan monastery was taught by well-known tutors and the monastery also provided all the teaching materials, textbooks and notebooks,” the student said.

A monk who was involved in running the service also believed that it would prevent some students from accessing a good education.

“This free education service is necessary for people who want to pursue an education but can’t afford it,” he said.

“These services are helping our nation by building the capacity of our
students, and this is something the country should be happy about.”

It is not clear why the classes have been stopped, but students speculated that it was due to the participation of monks from the monastery in last year’s demonstrations.

Ngway Kyar Yan is a lecturing monastery, where over 1000 monks were
studying before raids on the monastery following the monk-led protests in September last year.

Since the crackdown, only 40 monks have been left at the monastery.

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