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Myanmar Refugees Hopeful for Driver’s Test in Their Language in 2017

December 27, 2016 08:09 AM

Refugees in the Twin Cities from Myanmar, the former Burma, have been fighting for three years to take the Minnesota driver’s test in their language.

The state already offers the test in Hmong, Spanish, and other languages.

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The Karen Organization of Minnesota said, many Karen people were taking the test 50, 60 even 100 times and failing.

Some were desperate to work and needed to drive, so they drove without licenses and insurance.

A KSTP investigation uncovered the problem last August.

READ ALSO: Karen People in Twin Cities Seek to Take Driver's License Test in Their Own Language 

After our calls, the state told us it was contracting with a new company called Morpho Trust and would offer the driver’s test in 50 languages including Karen.

A spokesman told us that could possibly happen by the end of the year.

We went back to check and learned the system isn’t in place to offer Karen and won’t be ready until June 2017.  

People like Pah Sen have been waiting for the state to offer the test in Karen.

He passed after 80 tries but his wife still needs to pass.

Sen lost his job after the man who was driving him and others to rural areas couldn’t drive anymore.

Sen needs a job to support his children and his wife.

He believes Karen people could pass if they could take the test in their language.

“We've heard that loud and clear and the new vendor will be able to provide that,” said Department of Public Safety spokesman Bruce Gordon in an interview in August.

Gordon refused to go on camera with us recently to explain the delays and the progress of the state made towards offering the written tests in different languages.

He sent us an email saying “DPS-DVS signed a contract on Nov. 9 with the vendor, MorphoTrust, to begin work on a new automated knowledge test system.

It is estimated that the project will be completed by June 2017.

In the meantime, DVS is working to translate the paper test into Karen now as a bridge to when the test will be available in the new system. 

"That translation process should be completed next month," said Gordon.

A member of the legislative transportation committee Rep. Frank Hornstein said DPS decision to offer the translated tests on paper for right now will help Karen people desperate to drive to work.

But he wants to know why the system is delayed until next year June. Hornstein said he would be asking DPS those questions when the legislature is back in session in January.

Credits

Farrah Fazal

Copyright 2016 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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