Education & Cultural Department


saw la say

Head – P’doh Saw Lah Say

The Karen Education and Culture Department was formed to provide education and training while preserving the Karen language and culture. The department also provides access to education with indigenous knowledge, language and skills for Karen children.

During the British colonisation of Burma, the Karen Education Department (KED) was formed; a role it continued to perform after Burma’s independence in 1948, although in a much more fragile capacity. In 1962 under Nu Win’s regime, the education system in Burma dropped significantly. The Burmese education policy was changed to illuminate ethnic language in schools and close ethnic schools in Burma. The only ethnic schools that existed were in the liberated areas of Karen State. Following the 1988 coup d’etat the frequency and intensity of raids in Karen State directed at damaging local ethnic governing mechanisms increased significantly nearly closing the existing school system in Karen State.

In May 2000, the KED was re-initiated in its current capacity to oversee the standardisation, structuring and monitoring of the educational activities in the Karen refugee camps as well as inside Karen State in the absence of government support.

Since 2000, our schools and programs in 24 townships inside Eastern Burma and 7 refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border have seen over 350,000 students, distributed more than 2,000,000 kg in school supplies, and trained over 8,100 education professionals.

In 2009 the KED underwent organisational changes. Its activities in the refugee camps were stationed under the Karen Refugee Committee – Education Entity (KRC-EE).