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ျမန္မာစာမ်က္ႏွာ | Myanmar Peace Monitor
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Finland: Burmese in exile struggle for education

"Language is the biggest hurdle for Burmese people in Finland because without understanding the local language, it is hard to access further education," said Thar Swe, the vice coordinator of Campaign for Democracy in Burma (CDB, Finland).
For the Burmese, Finland is a perennial battleground. It is not just the danger of bullets from the green uniforms but the need to learn the language and to adapt to the culture of the natives and try to amalgamate.
 
The Burmese, perforce in exile, have been victims of human rights abuse and brutality by Burma's military junta. While oppression, lack of political freedom forced relocations, and forced labour are some of the abuses they have had to put up with, what is worse is that their women have been raped and killed along with their children in their homeland Finland is unlike other English speaking countries, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Finnish is the official language in Finland.
 
"Language is the biggest hurdle for Burmese people in Finland because without understanding the local language, it is hard to access further education," said Thar Swe, the vice coordinator of Campaign for Democracy in Burma (CDB, Finland).

Finnish language has its own phonology of phonemes a system of consonants and vowels and it is difficult for adults to pick it up without an accent. Every letter is pronounced in the same way unlike English.
 
Thar Swe has earned a degree in Information Technology (service and marketing). He is now starting with Engineering of Information Technology in Finnish language.

He has been living in Finland for the last six years. Thar Swe was also a former 1996 student activist in Burma but fled to the Thailand border "due to my personal security," he said. He arrived in Finland in 2000.
 
Thar Swe has not given up on Burma's political activities. He holds photo exhibitions, organizes a ceremony on Aung San Suu Kyi's birth day and occasionally takes part in demonstrations together with other members of CDB (Finland). CDB was formed on June 20, 2002 in Finland.
 
A Burmese monk Kuladuta said "It is a bit difficult for me to start my life from the beginning here in Finland." Everything is computerized, he adds.
 
Kuladuta is now starting with Ammatti- Professional School. He arrived in Kotka, Finland in 2006 from a Karen refugee camp on the Thai border of Tham Him.
 
"Learning Finnish language is my first priority because I can't continue with higher education without it," said Kuladuta. He is hoping to study political science in a university in Finland because "someday I want to work for Burma to alleviate the suffering of Burmese people."
 
Outi Saari, a teacher from Ammatti School in Kotka said Finnish language is a window for foreigners in Finland. It needs to be learnt for them to have a better life, she emphasized.
 
The Ammatti School is also for foreigners and adults to start their basic education and for choosing professional careers given that the school has a Business curriculum.

Courses in engineering, construction, nursing and cooking methods exist in every city in Finland.
 
With 10 years experience in teaching at the Ammatti School, Saari said "Ammatti School helps foreigners and adults to access modern education and to get good jobs."
 
Students in Ammatti School can attend for free and it provides meals. It started 20 years ago.
 
"I am struggling to improve the life of my family by learning Finnish culture, language and education which will be useful in the future," said Day Paw, who arrived in 2006 in Hyvinkää, Finland.
 
Day Paw is hoping to enroll in a university in the future to earn a major which he can apply to the political situation in Burma.
 
Burmese in exile in Finland are relocated to Finland by applying to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which takes into consideration their political security and abuse of human rights by the Burma's military regime.
 
"We should always think, what we can do for our country -- Burma, wherever we are," said Thar Swe in Kuopio, Finland.