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School News (2-5)
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1- Karen Teacher Training College(KTTC)Re-union
and KTWG Annual Meeting
2- Thai Education Minister Fears NGOS’ classroom influence
3- 14 New Women Leaders Ready to Work
4- UN Urges Focus on Education,
as Donors Express Misgivings
5- New International University for Burmese Migrants
6- Re-opening Community Library
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International Education News (6-9)
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- In digenous Aboriginal Education
- Interactive Radio Program in Solamia
- Teacher Training at the Grassroots
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Focus Stories (10-13)
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- The First KTTC Reunion
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Traditional Knowledge (14-15)
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- Are there similarities between Indigenous knowledge
and Modern scientific knowledge?
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Interview (16-17)
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- Interviewed Senior Student ‘Naw Paw Thaw Thaw
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Interview Ko Kay Villager Pah Ti Tha Mya
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Teacher Education (18-19)
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- Slow Learner Education
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School Health
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Karen(20-22) Burmese(21-23)
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Poems, Games and Cartoons (24-25)
Teacher Talk (26-27)
Reader Feedback (28)
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3 Karen Teacher Newsletter - July, 2009 Karen Teacher Training College(KTTC) Re-union and KTWG Annual Meeting
Karen Teacher Newsletter - July, 2009
Karen Teacher Training
College(KTTC) Re-union and
KTWG Annual Meeting
On May 17-19, 125 people came from across
Karen State to participate in the KTTC reunion.
The aims of KTTC reunion are; to encourage
teachers to review their teaching experiences in
the field, to improve a strong net-work between
KTTC teachers and students for future corporation,
to encourage the students to keep working in
education. KTTC is a pre-service teacher
education program for Karen State youth who
agree to return to Karen State communities as
teachers immediately upon graduation. KTTC
reopened in 2005 and the first graduates completed
their studies in 2007. 30 KTTC alumni returned to
join in the festivities. On May 20 , 14 KTTC alumni
and 25 KTTC students were presented with
diplomas by the Karen Education Department
Chairperson, Saw Lahsay. TheKTTC alumni
received diplomas as they have now completed 2
years of teaching in community schools which was
part of the agreement of attending KTTC. The
KTTC students received their diploma for their
completion 2 years of studies. Saw Pah Lah, who
went back and taught in Karenni State, said," I'm
so happy that I have had this chance to come to
the reunion and meet with my former friends.
According to this program, we received the honor
certificates. During the time whilst I was teaching,
even if I faced different kind of problems, I tried to
solve them all. For this reason, I am proud of
myself and really happy with all the people here."
Mr Jurin announced a plan to lure the children
into formal schooling, both public and private
institutions, after talks with security agencies which
expressed the concern that they might fall victim to
ill-intentioned people hiding among good teacher
at NGOs, which could then pose a threat to national
The ministry now provides an education for about
half of the 100,000 stateless children, These are
usually children of foreign labourers who have
permanent jobs in Tak, Mae Hong Son, Chiang
Mai, Chiang Rai, Kanchanaburi, Samut
Songkhram and Samut Sakhon.
Another 50,000 mainly from children foreigners
who often change work, are reportedly being
taken care of by teachers from NGOs and social
Security agencies say most teachers are
foreigners, some of whom have entered Thailand
Children who study with these teachers do not
have a chance to learn Thai over even their mother
tongue as the teachers only school them in foreign
languages. This could be exploited by those
wanting to destroy national security, security
agencies stated.
They’re allowed to teacher freely with no state
controls, Mr Jurin said, if we leave the children
with them and don’t know their exact purposes, it
may lead to a situation similar to the unrest in the
Southern Thailand.
14 New Women Leaders Ready
to Work
The following week on May 27-29, taking the
opportunity of having all of its members present,
KTWG held an organizational meeting to evaluate
all of its activities. While noting a number of strengths,
all members agreed that there were still
opportunities to improve. Currently, at the time of
writing this article, there is real fear that the Burma
Army plans an attack on the area in which KTTC
is based. Students and teachers are preparing
Thai Education Minister Fears
NGOS’ classroom influence
The Thai Education Ministry plans to bring all
stateless children into the formal school system
because of worries some are being taught by
unregulated non governmental organizations.
All children born in Thailand qualify for free
compulsory education but many study with
volunteer teachers attached to non-governmental
organizations. This is because of convenience of
parents’ fears of sending them to state schools.
But these volunteer teacher and NGOs are a
concern for the ministry. We have no idea what
they teach and instil in those children, the Education
Minister Jurin laksanavisit said.
The new Women’s Leadership School, organised
by KWO, held its graduation on 6 th April 2009.
The new women leaders are representatives from
all 7 districts, KTWG, KSNG and KSEAN. The
course, which was a pilot course this year, lasted
for 10 months.
During the closing ceremony, Naw Dah Eh Kler,
secretary of KWO, said to the graduates, “Today
you are a student, but tomorrow you will become
a leader, so you will need to think carefully about
your activities. The outcomes of your activities will
reflect upon your organisation and what women
can do for their communities. This school isn’t just
for members of KWO, we hope every organisation
will send their women youth here so they will be
able to continue their studies, especially in
leadership skills.”
Naw Pyo Pyo, a graduate from the school, said,
“It is wonderful to have had the opportunity to be
in this school. I am a representative from an
organisation, but I still don’t know a lot. For
example, management skills, cooperation with
women’s groups and women’s protection are some
of the things I have learnt in this school.”
She added, “When the leaders give a speech I
thought what they said was true so I didn't go and
speak with them as I didn’t understand the whole
situation, so I just listened. After studying here I
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uw> d F u p D. School News t'd. t xDw z. <AbD r >k pX
5 Karen Teacher Newsletter - July, 2009 realise it is important to read many books and
Karen Teacher Newsletter - July, 2009
realise it is important to read many books and talk
to people to know the whole situation.”
During the 10 month course, the students study
17 subjects including History of Burma, History of
the Karen Revolution, Women’s Participation,
Human rights, Democracy, Public speaking, media
skills, English, Compute and Geography including
South East Asia.
The KWO’s Leadership school was supported
by the International Women’s Development
Agency, with 4 full-time teachers to support the
young womens education.
UN Urges Focus on Education, as
Donors Express Misgivings
The United Nations has called on Burma's military
junta to cooperate with the international community
to improve the state of education in the cyclone-
stricken Irrawaddy delta, but international donors
are warning that the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi
could complicate efforts to raise money for the
victims of Cyclone Nargis.
At a UN-organized donors meeting in Rangoon
on 9th June2009, a senior UN official highlighted
the dire need for improved access to education in
the region, where few school escaped the
devastation wrought by Burma's worst-ever
natural disaster.
"The international community should increase its
efforts, in cooperation with the government (of
Burma) and local organizations, in order to
promote quality education for all children and
youth," said Bishow Parajuli, the UN resident and
humanitarian coordination in Rangoon.
Around 60 participants, including heads of
diplomatic missions, UN agencies and national
and international non-governmental
organizations, attended the meeting, at which the
acute shortage of learning materials and qualified
teachers and the lack of opportunities for further
education in the delta region were highlighted.
The donor meeting was followed by a field visit to
several villages in the Irrawaddy delta on
The donor representatives witnessed the limited
progress that has been made over the past year
in rebuilding schools. They also observed
children in overcrowded classrooms in schools
with nothing but plastic sheeting as walls.
"Over half a million children in the affected areas
have benefited from education support since
Cyclone Nargis destroyed and damaged over
4,000 schools, of which 1,255 completely
collapsed," said the UN Children's Fund deputy
representative, Juanita Vasquez.
"More efforts are required to increase education
opportunities to children, no only in the delta, but
also in the rest of the country," she added.
According to the Post-Nargis Recovery and
Preparedness Plan, some US $157 million will
be needed by the education sector over the next
three years.
Meanwhile, the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations(ASEAN), which has played a key role in
the humanitarian response to the disaster, said that
some countries considering increasing their
contribution to the recovery effort are seeking
reassurances of cooperation from the Burmese
authorities. Representatives from ASEAN met with
donor countries and international organizations in
Bangkok on the 10th June,2009.
After the meeting, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin
Pitsuwan told journalists, "We would like to seek
clarification and new assurance from the
government (of Burma) that from now onward we
will have full support, full access and we will have
full coordination in order to deliver our international
assistance to (Burma) or into delta."
Surin also said that the Burmese regime's
prosecution of democracy leader Aung San Suu
Kyi was affection donor sentiment.
"They certainly mentioned the fact that it has not
helped the enthusiasm of their constituencies to
engage more actively, more fully," said Surin.
"There might be some delay, there might be some
reservation, that the issue is not separate from the
deliberation and the consideration on further
So far, about $300 million in relief aid has been sent
to the region, and agencies are seeking another
$700 million for recovery efforts.
Aid groups have been struggling to raise money to
help the victims of Cyclone Nargis, which hit Burma
in May 2008. The cyclone killed at least 140,000
people and left 2.4 million homeless.
Burma already receives scant overseas
development assistance- a meager $2.85 per
Tamasa University, to organize the new
international university for the migrants.
It was suggested the curriculum for the university
will include human rights and democracy,
environment and traditional Knowledge, health
education and women and youth education.
Naw Paw Ray Said “It will take 3 years for the
university to be ready to open.
There are migrant students who have already
completed high school, where will they go to study?
When the university is open many students will be
ready to continue their studies.”
When the students finish university, even though
they cannot legally work in Thailand, they can at
east work with private companies and
“BMWEC (Burmese Migrant Worker Education
Center) send students, who have completed high
school, to Bangkok University. But they have many
problems, including money, so they can only send
a few students” said Naw Paw Ray.
In Mae Ra Mat, Po Pa and Mae sot in Tak District,
there are 10000 students attending 60 schools for
BMWEC have recorded 30,000 migrant students
who want to study, but there are not enough
schools for them.
Article taken from "Khitpyaing Journal"
Re-opening Community Library
head, compared with nearly $50 for Sudan and
neighboring Laos.
"It would be really silly to penalize the people of this
country for actions taken by the current military
regime," said Andrew Kirkwood, the country director
for Save the Children UK.
Article taken from "Bangkok Post"
New International
University for
Burmese Migrants
In the Mae Sot area, there are many Burmese
migrant students who want the opportunity to study
higher education.
The Principal of the Tamasa University in Thailand
is leading the planning for an International University
for the migrants.
Naw Paw Ray, Chairperson of the Burmese
Migrant Education Committee, said, “If a new
international university will be available, it will be a
good opportunity for the Burmese migrants to attend,
so we welcome the plans”
Many representatives from Universities around
Thailand meet with Day Chan Ta’ssi Pah, from
On 27 th June 2009 the Karen Teacher Training
College reopened the community library.
There were more than one hundred participants
attending the opening, including students from Kho
Kay middle school, Ma Nge Lu primary school,
KTTC and local villagers.
Before people enter the library, Saw Maw Wah,
the local village leader, cut the rope to symbolize
the library’s opening.
“This library is not only for the students because
it’s based for community and so, anyone can
borrow the books or research the information as
necessary.” said Tha Taw, KTTC Headmaster.
This library has been running since 2005, but
community leaders have noticed a decline in the
number of students and villagers using the library
over the years.
As the new library opens, many hope this will be
the year when activities and events will encourage
more students and villagers to take advantage of
the library resources and enjoy reading.
“I haven’t graduated yet but to improve my
knowledge and experience I need to read. Thus,
I hope everyone will take this opportunity and
read a lot”. Said Pa Ti Tha Mya, a local villager.
This library has several books including children’s
game, comic, folding, poems, myths, history,
general knowledge and English language books.
In total there are over 1,000 books in the library,
with more arriving every semester.
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7 Karen Teacher Newsletter - July, 2009 Indigenous Aboriginal Education There are many indigenous communities within
Karen Teacher Newsletter - July, 2009
Indigenous Aboriginal Education
There are many indigenous communities within the
world, with their own languages, celebrations,
traditions and culture; but one group are able to
say they were the first group of indigenous people
in the world – the Aborigines.
The Aborigines, consisting of many smaller groups
called clans, have existed for over 40,000 years.
They originated in Australia, with over 700 different
languages, and lived at one with the land, until in
1788 when the British colonised Australia. At this
time, their culture and way of life changed forever.
The British took their land and water resources,
forcing the Aborigines to move, causing them to
lose their spiritual and cultural connection with their
land. Their relationship with their land was the basis
of their spiritual life and has shaped their culture.
Australia was granted independence in 1901, but
Aborigines were still marginalized.
Since the early 1800’s, many mission schools were
built to provide education to Aboriginal students,
but they weren’t open long as the Aborigines were
wary of the foreigners. They saw them a threat
and were afraid they would loose their traditional
cultures and traditions. Traditional Aboriginal
education was in the form of the elders and centred
on ‘The Dreaming’. ‘The Dreaming’ is the Aboriginal
creation story, which differs for different regions.
They believe in many gods who created the people
and environment during the creation time. Each
group believes in a number of different gods, whose
images are found in a landscape featuring, rock,
plant or animal. As there were no books, the Elders
passed the knowledge of ‘The Dreaming’ and the
ways of their people, through talking with the
younger people, sharing songs, dance, art and
storytelling. This is how the traditional beliefs have
been transmitted from one generation to the next.
Old aboriginal society was an illiterate society, the
knowledge of the land; the means of survivals,
kinship and religion were transmitted by the Elders,
not written down. They learnt from observations
and imitating their Elders actions. Their learning
was unstructured and took place within a concrete
context. Early learning and education was given
by the family. As the child matured, it was taught
religious knowledge and rituals and initiations
through verbal instructions given in a more formal
structured way by strangers. The focus of aboriginal
education was to master context specific skills.
Younger children were given few responsibilities
and were taught practical skills e.g. how to gather
food. Older children experienced a more formal
education, including different art forms e.g. painting
weapons, tools, rocks and bodies; how to engrave
patterns and symbols and pictures in to rocks and
wood; traditional songs, poetry, stories and dance.
Through the arts, there was a connection to their
laws and by learning them they were taking more
responsibilities that were part of becoming an adult.
During 1910 to 1970, over 25% of indigenous
children, who were born to mixed-race parents,
were forcibly removed from their families and placed
with Australian foster families. This was done under
the belief that these children would have a better
life learning and living as a Westerner. They were
taught contempt for their cultural heritage and
therefore a lot of their culture was lost during this
period. To help keep some of their traditional
cultural knowledge, the Australian Institute of
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies
(AIATSIS) was established in 1965 to promote
Aboriginal studies and collect cultural knowledge
from all over Australia. They provide training and
access to a resource centre, encouraging more
teachers to widen their understanding of Aboriginal
traditions and language.
Aboriginal families are obliged to send their children
to mainstream Australian schools, where their
values, customs and codes of behaviour are mostly
ignored. The Australian Primary Curriculum
consists of 6 topics; English, Mathematics, Science
and Technology, Creative Art, Human Society and
its environment, and Personal development, health
and Physical Education. Through Human Society
and its environment, the children learn about
Aboriginal culture and language, reading, writing,
pronunciation, symbols and cultural characteristics.
Since the end of the 1970’s, many Aboriginal
communities have been trying to take some control
of their children’s education, as they felt there was
not enough focus on their traditional language and
culture. They started to build special schools and
advocate for the emergence of bicultural or ‘Two-
way’ schooling.
'Two-way’ learning is where the teacher respects
the knowledge, learning processes and
perspectives of another people and recognising
that they are learning about another culture and
knowledge system, at the same time as sharing
their own knowledge. It is about working together
to find the basis from which new knowledge can be
developed in a way that is relevant to the learners
concerned, and can be grasped by them. (http://
Many individuals are trying to raise awareness of
the need for a ‘two-way’ education to ensure equality
for Aboriginal children, as they feel Aboriginal
studies need to be part of the curriculum not just an
‘add-on’. One such person is Mandawuy
Yunupingu, from Arnhem Land, Northern Territory,
who was the first Aboriginal School Headmaster in
Australia. He has introduced ‘science of Aboriginal
teaching’ into his school, where Western knowledge
and Aboriginal knowledge work together to ensure
his students experience a wide, balanced and
relevant curriculum. It includes a merging of 2
cultural styles and ideas. Many people feared they
would lose their cultural dominance through this
type of education system, but the students have
flourished.Recently, New South Wales published
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newsroom/articles/teacher_training_grassroots )
9 Karen Teacher Newsletter - July, 2009 their Aboriginal Education and Training strategy, highlighting the need
Karen Teacher Newsletter - July, 2009
their Aboriginal Education and Training strategy,
highlighting the need for a shift to improve learning
outcomes for Aboriginal students and try to include
more Aboriginal youth in education. They aim, by
2012, that Aboriginal students outcomes will be the
same as or better than the outcomes of other
students. They are planning to include more
activities relevant to aboriginal culture and traditions
and provide support to those students who need
additional assistance. The Australian government
is supporting their project and has allocated $65
million, over 4 years, to ensure their aims are met.
This year, in Sydney, New South Wales, a small
group of people are reviving one of the main
Aboriginal languages. Dharug, which was the
dominating language in Sydney before the British
came, became extinct after the last known speaker
died in the late 19 th Century. The language has
only survived through written records. As the
language lessons have been integrated into their
school life, children are thriving and full of
enthusiasm for additional learning, both western
and traditional.
Indigenous groups have their own language,
culture and traditions and it is important to pass the
knowledge through generations yet to come
through their education system. Over the past few
decades, areas in Australia are recognising that
Aboriginal students are at a disadvantage when
attending western schools, as the curriculum doesn’t
include their traditional language and culture. As a
result, they have acknowledged the importance of
including indigenous knowledge into the school
curriculum to give every student in Australia an
equal chance of education.
South-Central Somalia has been difficult to reach
because of the renewed attacks and danger. We
evacuated our colleagues from Mogadishu
because some of the reels are targeting
humanitarian workers, and there have been
kidnappings and killings. Children from here have
known nothing but war and are constantly on the
In Somaliland and Puntland, which are more
peaceful, schools have few resources and
untrained teachers so the problem of educating
children in a difficult situation are pervasive. Our
project is trying to transform the classroom into a
place where children can learn and teachers know
how to manage the classroom.
We’ve been very successful reaching children and
training teachers in government schools in
Somaliland and Puntland. We’ve partnered with
organizations, including Save the Children and
CARE, and we hope to work with them to offer
radio instruction and teacher training in South-
Central Somalia id it becomes stable. Going
forward, we want to reach another 20,000 children
who are not in school and teach them life skills
about how to resolve conflict and live peacefully.
When you go into a classroom and see children
listening to the programs, they literally transform.
This is the best thing that happens to them in their
daily lives. Their faces light up and they want more.
They are eager to learn and eager for peace.”
The Somali Interactive Radio Instruction Program
(SIRIP) is funded by the U.S. Agency for
International Development.
(This article was taken from
newsroom/articles/just_back_said_yasin, dated
October 2008)
Interactive Radio Program in
Teacher Training at the
Most Somali children have known nothing but war.
Said Yasin, who develops educational programs
in this African nation, is continually amazed and
inspired by students’ unquenchable desire to learn
– even under dire circumstances. On a recent visit
to the United States, Yasin reflected on the radio-
based instruction program that reaches 250,000
children and more than 7,000 teachers.
“This is a very important program for Somalis
because the country is unstable and children don’t
regularly go to school. Education is critical to the
stability of this country. Our goal is to teach children
about peace and conflict resolution and how to aim
for better things. American aid toward this effort will
have a huge impact on future generations ability to
promote peace in the world!"
Radio learning has been a very effective, low-cost
approach to solving a difficult problem. We provide
wind-up radios that don’t need batteries and don’t
break easily, and once produced, the programs
can be broadcast for a long time. With little creativity,
we can reach populations that have been displaced
by the violence.
Lalao Evangeline is a curriculum coordinator for
the Toamasina II school district in Madagascar. This
year she and a group of colleagues joined
coordinators from 5 other districts in an effort to
remake teacher training in their country. Over 6
months, they met in small clusters to gather and
analyse data on what teachers in their districts need
to know in order to become more effective in the
classroom. In a country where teacher training
has traditionally been top-down and somewhat
disconnected from classroom realities, this
grassroots initiative is transformative.
“By starting with what the teachers want to learn,
we have turned the system of teacher education
on it's head,” says EDC’s Norma Evans. “No one
in this country has done it before.”
The coordinators began by collecting information
on what their teacher colleagues most needed to
learn. Project staff trained the teachers to use
software to record and analyse the data. With the
Continued on page 19
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11 Karen Teacher Newsletter - July, 2009 The First KTTC Reunion On May 17 tth –
Karen Teacher Newsletter - July, 2009
The First KTTC Reunion
On May 17 tth – 19 th , 2009, KTTC held it’s first ever
reunion. This event brought people involved in
Karen education from all over Kawthoolei with more
than 115 participants attending. The reunion was
an opportunity for past and current KTTC students,
teacher educators and education leaders to get
together and discuss Karen education and their
experiences of teaching and learning in KTTC and
in schools in Kawthoolei. This was a very special
occasion for many reasons, including the KTTC
graduation ceremony. The ceremony marked the
graduation of students completing the 2 year
program of study at KTTC, but was also a
certification ceremony for the first KTTC graduating
class (now 5 th year KTTC students). The 5 th year
students are the first group of KTTC students (since
KTTC was restarted in 2005) to complete their
studies and 2 year practical teaching placement.
During the ceremony they proudly received their
KED teaching certificates, officially marking them as
fully fledged Karen teachers.
As well as eating and socialising together, during
the reunion, participants engaged in workshops
and performances to help them share their
experiences of teaching and learning and plan for
Karen education in the future.
To better understand the significance of this event,
Phru Pwgo spoke with participants who shared
their perspectives of the reunion.
to come and meet together with new people and to
see our old friends who we haven’t seen in a long
time. They have been all over Kawthoolei.”
Education leaders were also interested in attending
the reunion as Saw Kennedy, Dooplaya Eductaion
Coordinator, explained “I was interested because
every year KTWG and KTTC train teachers to
work in Kawthoolei and right now we need a lot of
teachers in our area, and so we want to cooperate
with KTWG for the future.”
Meeting with other students and teachers
Participants were very excited about the reunion
and had been looking forward to it. A 4 th year
student, Naw Eh Mu Say explained “I’ve never
had this experience before or heard anything like
this and we wanted to come and listen and get
encouragement from our leaders.” As another 4 th
year student, Naw Gler Say told us, “I also wanted
Along with the more formal workshops and
presentations, an important element of the reunion
was the chance for former classmates and friends
to meet together and discuss their lives and what it
was like teaching in Kawthoolei. Naw Gler Say (4 th
year student), said “In our teaching we have so
many students to manage and when we meet
together, we talk about how we have managed in
the classroom and ask our friends about their
experiences.” Naw Esther, a 5 th year student and
MTT explained “I hadn’t seen my friends and
classmates for 2 years and when I saw them I
asked them about the funny things that have
happened to them, but also how they managed to
survive and face the difficulties teaching in
Kawthoolei.” The reunion was also a good
opportunity to meet new people. Senior students
were able to share advice and experience with
their more junior peers. As Naw Esther (5 th year
student), related, “I met new students, some of them
are stressed about working in Kawthoolei and some
are not so happy because the life in KTTC can be
difficult, but I encouraged them not to give up
because if they keep going they will be teachers, a
difficult job, but an important one. I explained that if
they follow my example and persevere as students
and teachers despite all the problems they will face,
then they too will get their diplomas and become
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13 Karen Teacher Newsletter - July, 2009 better prepared as teachers to deal with the challenges
Karen Teacher Newsletter - July, 2009
better prepared as teachers to deal with the
challenges of teaching in Kawthoolei.” In the same
way, 1 st and 2 nd year students benefited from
speaking with more experienced colleagues. Saw
Sagoo, a 2 nd year student told us “Sometimes as
younger students we were a little shy to speak with
the older students, but I spoke with one year 5
student who is now an MTT and she shared how
she has been able to develop her flexibility in
working in different schools, different areas and
different situations. She helped me understand the
importance of flexibility for teachers.”
Highlights of the reunion
Although there have been other events bringing
together Karen students and teachers, the KTTC
reunion was unusual in terms of the large number
of participants it brought together and the style in
which it was run.
As Saw Sagoo (2 nd year student) explained
“Before, I had participated in another event which
brought teachers and students together in
Kawthoolei to participate in social exchanges and
get encouragement from education leaders. This
was fine and it was what I expected from the KTTC
reunion, but I found the reunion was even better
because we did so many workshops, performances
and presentations. It was special because we had
opportunities to speak ourselves and share
practical information about education and teaching
which was very useful.”
As Saw Sagoo elaborated “The most interesting
thing was the sharing of general knowledge and
experience from the others. We had 3 questions to
answer: 1) How should we organise the schools
2) How to improve the schools and 3) How to
develop the schools in the future.
These questions… how to set up the schools and
how to manage and follow up for the future are
very important and the discussions gave me good
ideas which will help me for the future.”Concerts
and performances were not only fun for participants,
but also provided a different type of learning
Discussing this, Naw Esther (5 th year student) said
“The first night’s concert and performance was very
interesting because peopIe presented in so many
different styles, with stories and skits and music and
used these as a way of showing about the
challenges they face. I learned from these.”
The sharing of experience and insight was clearly
important to participants.
As Naw Esther said “I’m a 5 th year student which
means I’ve been working in Kawthoolei as a teacher
for 2 years. I learned so many things at KTTC, but
also many things through my work as a teacher.
The reunion gave me a way to bring these different
things…being a student and teacher, together and
share them with others to help develop education
in Kawthoolei.”
The reunion worked to inspire participants through
meetings, activities and presentations, but also
through the presence of so many current and future
Karen educators together in one place.
Saw Sagoo (2 nd year student) explained “When I
was a 1 st year student, there were not many other
students in our group and I didn’t feel so happy. I
thought, why aren’t there more young people
interested in teaching in Kawthoolei? Sometimes,
I’ve felt like giving up, but at the reunion I saw so
many students from years 1-5 and I got a strong
positive feeling from this. In Kawthoolei we have
few teachers because there is not so much food
and not so much school material and we face many
problems and at the reunion when I saw so many
people who are student teachers and teachers
together I got a very good feeling about teaching in
Kawthoolei and I don’t want to give up.”
The reunion was also a positive experience for
the education leaders who were able to attend.
Saw Kennedy (Dooplaya Eductaion Coordinator)
discussed his impressions of the reunion “All of the
students explained their experiences, reviewed
their work from the past and made future plans.
They searched for the problems that they found in
the field and planned for how to overcome these
and promote their work. This will help us solve the
problems in our area. This is very useful for our
future work and when we have the chance it is
helpful to have reunions like this. In our area we
have a lot of teachers, but without much training
and so it is important for our teachers to see the
positive examples of the KTTC students. Now in
Dooplaya, where I work, most teachers know about
KTTC through meeting students who studied at
KTTC and they know KTTC students are much
better qualified than SPDC teachers.
As leaders, we can support KTTC in the future by
monitoring education and motivating our students
to study and attend KTTC.”The KTTC reunion
was an exciting, inspiring and practically useful
event. Although it was over all too quickly, it was
the first of what will hopefully be many future
reunions for KTTC.
Naw Ler Htoo, KTWG Chairperson, said, “I am
very happy to see so many students and educational
leaders here at the first KTTC reunion. It has
brought us all together, giving us the opportunity to
share our experiences and ideas about education.
We have built up networks teachers who are able
to support and encourage each other, and reflect
on their work. Hopefully, in a few years, we plan to
organise a second reunion which will bring together
more KTTC teachers and educational leaders.”
With many thanks to the participants who shared
their experiences of the reunion with Phru Pwgo.
Naw Eh Mu Say (4 th year student, teaching in Ee
Htu Hta Highschool)
Naw Esther (5 th year students, MTT working in
Dooplaya district)
Naw Kler Say (4 th year student, teaching in Ee Htu
Hta Highschool) Saw Kennedy (Education
Coordinator, Dooplaya district)
Saw Hsa Gu (2 nd year KTTC student)
Naw Ler Htoo(KTWG Chairperson)
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15 Karen Teacher Newsletter - July, 2009 Are There Similarities Between Indigenous Knowledge and Modern Scientific
Karen Teacher Newsletter - July, 2009
Are There Similarities Between
Indigenous Knowledge and
Modern Scientific Knowledge?
It is thought the modern science books, based on recent
scientific research with scientific language, is the only
way of understanding science; but Indigenous People
also have and use their own scientific methods and
language for centuries. No-one can survive without having
some understanding of scientific processes and
languages, but not necessarily modern science. People
have developed and lived for generations before modern
science started to influence the world.
Indigenous People’s understanding of science has
developed through decades of knowledge which has
been passed down through generations. As a result they
believe their process of gaining scientific knowledge and
understanding is more beneficial to their people than
modern science. Indigenous People don’t have
laboratories; they develop their understanding of scientific
processes through hands-on experience, including using
their 5 senses; taste, smell, touch, see and hear.
care of the rocks and water the environment around
them would change and animals would die. They want
to protect the environment and animals around them,
such as Rhinoceros, Elephant, Gibbon and Pelicans,
so they will be around for generations to come. They
believe, being traditionally Animists, if the animals are
killed your spirit will die causing problems for your family
and community.
For many generations Indigenous People have looked
after the animals around them based on this theory and
belief, ensuring the animals and environment thrived.
But many people disagree with this understanding. Over
the years, people have used their beliefs and ideas in
collaboration with scientific knowledge to develop ways
to better protect the animals and environment.
People who studied science and the protection of animals,
over 10 years ago, now realise there are not enough
animals on the planet. An organisation called IUCN was
started to prevent the extinction of animals, such as
Using the 5 senses.
Of the 5 senses, taste was originally used to discover if
food was sour, bitter, sweet, spicy, bland or salty. As the
knowledge and methods were passed through the
generations, their use and understanding has developed,
resulting in additional categories of taste being
discovered. This is one example of how using organic
chemistry and biochemistry can expand the range of
categories within a subject. Modern scientists are
expanding the way they use senses to develop their
understanding of different processes, but have forgotten
to use their original sense. For example, when the
Indigenous People want to test the tamarind leaf for its
uses, they use taste, sight and touch. After they feel it
they discover it makes their skin itchy, hot and painful.
They observe the effects of tamarind on their skin and
they taste the leaf, they discover it is sour and will use it
when a sour taste is needed. Modern scientist, wearing
protective clothes and gloves, will break the tamarind
Rhinoceros, Elephant, Gibbon and Pelicans within their
environment. Indigenous People also protect these
animals, but in contrast to the NGO’s, they do not need
funding as it has become integrated into their daily lives.
Both Indigenous and scientific knowledge needs to be
used in unison to ensure the best opportunities for animals
and people to continue existing together.
Global Warming
leaf down, take the liquid from it and mix it with a variety
of chemicals. They know the leaf contains 20 acids,
including Amino acid. They discover it tastes sour
because the leaf containing Arcarbic acid.
There are some similarities between the two methods,
each showing tamarind is sour and not poisonous, but
the methods are very different. If Modern scientists
experiment in their laboratories they will not identify the
taste of anything, just its’ appearance, colour and shape;
but they will be able to identify its properties, carbon side
chains or carbon bodies.
The Earth is round
There is an ancient Indigenous poem which says ‘Now
and for the future we should use the methods our
Grandfathers used. The earth is rolling like a big wheel.’
Traditional knowledge is passed through generations in
many forms including poems; these are the basis of their
beliefs and understanding. They therefore Indigenous
People knew the earth was spherical, like a ball, even
when modern scientists decided it was flat. When
Colarberg stopped debating the earth was round, as no-
one would believe him, Indigenous People continued to
believe in their poem and would not be swayed by
others opinions.
The Balance of life and death
In ancient times Indigenous people believed if they ate
frogs they needed to take care of the rocks, if they ate
fish they had to take care of the water. If they didn’t take
Indigenous People believe rain and hot weather have
their own seasons, but since the beginning of the 21 st
century it rains not only in the rainy season but during
the hot season, and there is hot weather throughout the
year. In the past they were able to tell which season it
was by looking at the birds, flowers, plants and by
listening to the animals’ sounds, but now it has changed.
They knew these changes were going to occur through
traditional knowledge and ideas told to them by their
Elders. It is important to use both Indigenous and scientific
knowledge for the future and not forget Indigenous
methods, if more people want to become scientifically
There is a poem in Indigenous Communities saying
‘Hotter than the sun and cooler than ice, coming through
air will be water.’ It describes how after the temperature
increases, it becomes cooler and rain will fall from the
sky. The rain will increase in intensity, bring thunder and
hail. Indigenous scientists say the earths temperature is
changing because the hot and cold aren’t equal, creating
an imbalance in the temperatures. Before the modern
scientists began testing and creating theories about the
weather and Global warming, the Indigenous People
recognised what was happening around them.
Both Indigenous People and modern scientists agree
Carbon dioxide emissions from factories, machines and
industries are effecting global warming. Indigenous People
believe a long time ago the earth was just sand and
stone, but as the temperature rose it brought winds and
storms. The earth gets its energy from the sun, which
Indigenous People call La May Ta.
Indigenous People believe global warming is not just
caused by the emission of CO 2 but by people not taking
responsibility for their own environment. An effect of
global warming is the change in the suns temperature,
affecting the temperature of the surface of the earth. It is
unsure whether scientists have tested this theory yet but
in order to sustain life Indigenous knowledge and scientific
methods need to be used collaboratively.
There are many similarities between Indigenous and
scientific knowledge, both are working towards sustaining
and improving our world.
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