Myanmar School Days

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Joey Johnson writes, As American schools start to enter their third month…

As American schools start to enter their third month, you may not realize that half way across the world, kids have been in school and hard at work for almost 5 months. In Myanmar (Burma), public schools go from June until the end of March, due to the different weather and holidays here. In April and May it is extremely hot with little to no rain. This is also when the locals celebrate the Water Festival, which is like their New Year. An average public high school has 2000 students and they have to pay $10 for the year, compared to the $15,000 tuition at my private international school (which I attend free, since my parents teach there). In addition to attending classes, students often go to private tutoring every day to help with their schoolwork. Students wear uniforms, which are white plaid shirts and green shorts or jumpers. They walk, ride their bike, or hop on the back of a crowded pickup truck (the local bus) to get to school. Schools are in session from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for elementary, noon to 5 for middle school and 7 a.m. to 11:30 for high school. Students are taught in crowded classrooms, made of concrete, with 60 students, all sharing desks, with little to no instructions from the teacher, and mostly just written work from a book. But there is some instruction going on, and, if a student disobeys or doesn’t pay attention, they are hit with a stick, even to the point where they draw blood. Recess consists of kicking a ball on dirt, usually muddy from all the rain and no play equipment. Most students stop their education at the end of third grade, and stay at home to help their family make some money by selling goods or working in the fields. Still, Myanmar has the highest literacy rate for Southeast Asia, at 89 percent.