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Training programme shut down in Pyapon

Jan 27, 2009 (DVB), Hotel and tourism minister major-general Soe Naing has ordered the immediate closure of a social support training programme in Pyapon township in the delta region because he feared the course had a political element.

The Lawkadasariya foundation led by abbot U Kawsala, a member of the Rangoon division Head Monks' Association, rebuilt a school in Kyonku village, Pyapon township, which had been destroyed by Cyclone Nargis.

Villagers recently organised a social support training course with the help of the foundation, which was attended by teachers, villagers, the secretary of the village authority and the abbot, and involved training on personal hygiene, the use of modern toilets and on how to maintain the materials donated after the cyclone.

Soe Naing, who is in charge of Nargis aid supervision in Pyapon region, heard about the course on the first evening and ordered the teachers and trainers to stop it immediately.

Soe Naing reportedly told teachers that they were not obliged to hold the course on premises just because the organisation had funded the school.

Locals said the army officer was concerned by the title of the course, ‘Developing peace and development views’, and thought it had political overtones.

The following day, the head teacher of the school had to go to Pyapon and sign a pledge agreeing not to organise such training courses in the future.

Local residents were angered by Soe Naing's decision because the training course was organised by a respected monk and was providing useful public information.

Reporting by Aye Nai