Teachers in Mandalay on May 4 staged a protest against the regime’s plan to reopen schools. / CJ
By The Irrawaddy 18 July 2022
Myanmar’s military regime says it has arrested the founder and two teachers of Kaung For You, an online school offering free classes for students boycotting junta schools, while arresting other teachers affiliated with the school.
Junta-controlled television on Saturday announced that founder Kaung Thaik Soe and two primary school teachers, Thant Sin Htike and Win Bo, who had joined the civil disobedience movement (CDM), were arrested in Shan State on July 13.
Kaung Thaik Soe, who was deputy township education officer in Myittha Township, Mandalay Region, until he joined the CDM, also faces incitement charges for leading a teachers’ strike in the township after the 2021 coup.
The regime said the three disturbed public education by running the online school, which was affiliated with the parallel National Unity Government (NUG), which it labels a terrorist organization.
It claims the three used public donations for their personal benefit, threatened to release personal details about parents and teachers and that they were detained at a brothel. The claims were dismissed as propaganda by the NUG’s education ministry and educational groups.
Kaung For You has previously faced problems of private information being leaked and parents said they received threatening phone calls trying to blackmail them.
The arrests came a few days after the online school announced that it will take action against those who leaked the information and upgrade security. The school has now been temporarily closed down.
The junta has since arrested more teachers affiliated with Kaung For You with unconfirmed reports of around 25 arrests by Monday. The Basic Education Student Affairs Federation said around 20 teacher arrests had been confirmed.
Those arrested are from Kalaw Township in Shan State, Mogaung in Kachin State, Myittha, Pakokku in Magwe Region, Mudon in Mon State and Myeik in Tanintharyi Region, according to the federation. Many of those arrested were found at home.
Online schools are one of the few educational options for those boycotting regime-run schools.
The arrests have prompted some striking teachers to go into hiding.
A representative for the federation said: “We urge the NUG to have clear guidance on personal information collected online as it is important to be secure during revolutionary times.”
Resistance forces, including the Karen National Union, have publicly offered assistance helping striking teachers evade junta detention.
The NUG condemned the arrest of teachers as a violation of the right to education and an inhumane act.
It said it is investigating the case and working to ensure the security of online schools.