Traditional Writing “Tablets”

By Lokethar

This morning I watched a video presentation on the MRTV about a small/medium industry enterprise in the Mon State which is making traditional writing slates that we used in our primary school days to write on. The slates, we were informed, are being distributed all over the country. Hence there is a market for the slates as an alternative to the modern day electronic “Tablets” which serves basically the same purpose as far as the primary students’ needs are concerned, but are only accessible to those who can afford them.

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visits a shop selling slate tablets during her visit to Ywalut Village, Chaungzon Township in Mon State on 4 April, 2019. Photo: MNA
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visits a shop selling slate tablets during her visit to Ywalut Village, Chaungzon Township in Mon State on 4 April, 2019. Photo: MNA

Convenient for practising writing
Unlike exercise books, the writing on slates with the accompanying scribe, could be just wiped clean and the slate written on again and again. This is very convenient for practising writing as well as solving mathematical problems. Mistakes could be easily erased and the writing started all over again.
Speaking of “writing” I remember that in our primary school days we were taught “Penmanship” which is the art of proper writing. I wonder if it is still being taught these days considering the poor “penmanship”, both English and Burmese, even among the learned people we encounter nowadays. If not, I would like to suggest that it be reintroduced in the primary education curriculum.
Getting back to the topic of “slates”, considering that the new National Education Law makes primary education compulsory, more and more schools will need to be established to accommodate the increasing number of students expected to undergo primary education. With the increasing number of schools and students, books will be needed including exercise books for the students to use. However due to limitation in resources as well as production facilities meeting all the needs of exercise books would be difficult. Especially in the Rural areas, the poorer people would be hard put to providing books and particularly exercise books for their school going children. The “slates” would serve to fill in the needs for exercise books. It seems from what was said in the video as mentioned above, there is a big market for “slates”. Hence the particular small/medium industry in Mon State and elsewhere should be promoted and possibly improved.

A more safe technology
In the video we observed that the slates are being made from blocks of “slate stones” through a process of cutting, grinding and buffing. The whole process generates a lot of “slate” dust which can cause lung diseases if exposed to for long lengths of time. Besides the production machines are driven from a single “power source” using belt drives for “power transmission” to the individual machines. Serious injuries may result if hands or clothing gets accidentally entangled by the exposed belting. In fact here are many small and medium Rice, Oil and Timber Mills all over the country that use the same power transmission technology. It would be well if all these industries are upgraded to use a more safe technology. This would probably be possible with supply of Electric Power to these industries so that they could upgrade to using individually driven production machinery.
In this particular case of the slate making indigenous industry, without the slightest intention of adversely affecting the production, I would like to suggest to the authorities concerned if I may, to help them create a more safe and healthy workplace for the long term interest of the employers and workers of the industry.

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