Sunday, August 14, 2011

Aung San Jarmon libraries to help strengthen youth

Sunday, 14 August 2011 17:34 Mizzima News

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Voracious reader Aung San Suu Kyi has called on young people in Pegu to read more and the two libraries she has just opened offer books that allow them to do just that.

On Sunday, National League for Democracy (NLD) Secretary General Aung San Suu Kyi cut ribbons at two libraries in Pegu (Bago), 80 kilometres north of Rangoon, on a one-day visit to the city.

The “Aung San Jarmon” libraries are situated on 23rd Panhaling Street in Bago and Nawayat Koe Twe Street in Thanatpin have a total of over 7,000 books. These two libraries were established by the NLD Bago Region branch and local people. Each library cost over 1 million kyat (US$ 1,330).

There are many books on politics and religion, and novels including a book entitled, “Is this a human hell,” written by NLD central executive committee member Win Tin.

The genesis of the libraries lies in a visit Suu Kyi made to Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State, on April 27, 1989, her first ever political trip out of the Rangoon region since she had returned to Burma.

She was greeted by the people with calls of “Aung San Jarmon,” which in the Kachin language means “Golden Pollen Aung San.”

On this 1989 visit, she stressed the importance of the mental security of the people and that young people were important for the future of the Burmese Union.

“We must lead to a system which can provide us mental security,” she said to ethnic leaders at the Kachin National Democracy Congress (KNDC) office. “We can get economic security only after getting this mental security. So please try politically, please support and help. Establishing a new Union is the duty of all ethnic people in this Union. Please fully perform your duty.”

Aung San Suu Kyi cuts the ribbon at the opening ceremony of the Aung San Jarmon Library, dedicated to her, on her visit to Pegu on Sunday, 14 August, 2011. Photo: Mizzima 

On her one-day trip to Pegu on Sunday, she urged young people to toughen their minds and read books at the libraries set up by the NLD. This Pegu tour was her first political tour outside of Rangoon since she was released from house arrest in November 2010. This was her second visit to Pegu in 22 years.

The tour coincides with fighting between Burmese government troops and the Kachin Independence Army and its political wing, the Kashin Independence Organization or KIO.

In her open letter dated July 28, Suu Kyi called on government troops and ethnic armed forces to stop fighting and offered to help in the peace process.

During her 1998 Myitkyina tour, she met the aging Duwa Zaw Rit who drafted the roadmap to the Panglong Agreement in 1947 with her father, Aung San, who was assassinated later that year. During her meeting with Duwa Zar Rit she discussed a new Panglong Agreement.

Suu Kyi stressed on that trip to Kachin State her connection with the Kachin people. She is reported to have said: “I always saw the photo hanging on the wall of our dining room since my childhood. In this photo, my father was in Kachin traditional costume. So I have felt Kachin people are my brothers and sisters since my early childhood.”

The Aung San Jarmon Libraries - Starting time
After Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest in November 2010, the educational networks were constructed. Similarly an education network was constructed in Pegu (Bago) and the party started to build the reading rooms in January 2011.

Rationale for setting up the libraries

Library establishing committee member Myint Oo said when they were young he and his parents could buy books and many people had libraries at home and many homes had a study. "But now the books become expensive," he said. "Even a weekly journal costs 600-700 kyat (US$ 80-90 cents) per copy. A monthly magazine costs 2,000-3,000 kyat (US$ 2.70-4.00). Other books are not thick as in the past, they are thin yet expensive at over 2,000 kyat, sometimes even 4,000-5,000 kyat (US$ 5.30-6.60) per copy."

He said when people are stuggling to make ends meet, books are a luxury. "So our people are farther and farther away from books. It is very sorry for us to see such situation where books are not accessible. This is like the gagging and blindfolding of our mouths and eyes. This situation will undermine the development of our knowledge and wisdom. The youths will lose interest in reading. I wish the people especially youth read the books. There are not many Internet cafés here. So it will be benefit them if they come to these libraries. Therefore, we fill this gap."

The Libraries
There are two separate libraries, namely Aung San Jarmon Reading Room -Bago and Aung San Jarmon Reading Room – Thanatpin.


“Aung San Jarmon” means “Golden pollen Aung San”. In the Kachin language, Jarmon means golden pollen.
Aims of the libraries
1. Youth people spend their time reading rather than in a beer pub, billiard parlour, video games shop and soccer matches to make them useful and valuable youths
2. To encourage the youth to develop their lives themselves
3. Easy access to books which were compiled by scholars and academics after devoting many years in research


Aung San Jarmon Reading Room (Bago) – No. 94, 23rd Panhlaing Street, Bago, Bago Region
(At the residence of NLD Bago Region Branch Chairman Myat Hla)
Aung San Jarmon Reading Room (Thanatpin) – No. 128, Nawarat Koethwe Street, Zaypine Ward, Thanatpin, Bago Region.

Aung San Jarmon reading room (Bago) – can accommodate over 20 readers
Aung San Jarmon reading room (Thanatpin) – 12’x16’ room, can accommodate 14-15 readers.

Books available
Weekly journals, monthly magazines, novels, cartoons, poetry, biography, politics, economics, social sciences, religion, TOEFL, IELTS, FAT English language learning books and aids

Number of books
Aung San Jarmon Reading Room (Bago) – about 4,000 books in assorted categories
Aung San Jarmon Reading Room (Thanatpin) – over 3,000 books in assorted category. (All of the books were donated by well wishers)

Construction costs for libraries
Each library cost about 1.5 million kyat (US$ 1,330)

Library staff
A librarian and two assistant librarians, besides volunteers will be assigned at these libraries.

Book circulation system
Readers must have library card, named “Book lovers,” that will cost 500 kyat (US$ 00.66) each. These library cards must be renewed every six months and the readers can borrow two books each time for one week with this card. The youths who are attending English classes will have special library cards and they can borrow books free of charge.
There is a special arrangement for monks who want to borrow religious books. Similarly those who want to borrow weekly journals can get them without a library card.

Other programmes
Occasional talks will be held by inviting language and literature scholars and experts.

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