More than 200 teachers in southern Chin State’s Paletwa Township have applied for permission to transfer to other areas, the director of the township’s education department said.
“We have yet to receive resignation letters. Teachers have applied to transfer from Paletwa to other regions,” director Salai Aung Min told Khonumthung News.
Although he said that this type of request was “usual” and no reasons were given, Paletwa has seen intensified fighting between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army in recent years, with thousands of villagers displaced, and reports of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
There are 1,554 teachers working in more than 384 schools in Paletwa, many of which are understaffed. More than 100 schools in the township did not have any teaching staff last year, according to Salai Aung Min, so the education department appointed local graduates to work in these schools.
Teachers are eligible for transfer after teaching in a location for one year.
“They apply for it every year. We also received many applications last year,” Salai Aung Min of the transfer requests.
The township is still short at least 600 teachers from the primary to the high school levels. It also had the lowest high school passing rate—less than 7 percent—of all nine townships in Chin State during the 2018-2019 academic year.
With Paletwa an active war zone, teachers have said that they are worried for their safety.
“There is no regional security. Even though schools are open, the situation is similar to the schools being closed. We cannot teach students every day. We have faced difficulties. We cannot work in the places where it is our duty to work. We have become IDPs (internally displaced people) here,” a teacher who works in Ton-Mawa village in Paletwa told Khonumthung News.
Ton-Mawa has 12 teachers and 224 students of all levels. Each teacher has to teach at least three subjects because of the staff shortage.
A local civil society worker in Paletwa said that the high rate of transfer requests could have a negative impact on an already struggling education system.
“Teachers are afraid to stay in Paletwa for security reasons. Paletwa Township has a lack of schoolteachers already, and now teachers are trying to transfer away from here. There will be more difficulties for students,” the civil society worker told Khonumthung News.