Nearly half the schools in war-torn Paletwa Township, in southern Chin State, won’t be able to open when classes start up again after a lockdown is relaxed in July. The lockdown was started in early April to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
There are 391 schools in the township, but 191 won’t be able to open, says Salai Aung Min, head of Paletwa Township Education Department.
“In this situation, we cannot open all schools. There are still travel restrictions in place and we can’t get to some of the schools. In other cases, villagers remain in IDP (internally displaced person) camps in Paletwa town, leaving no one in the village. Roads are still closed, preventing teachers from traveling to schools,” he says. Some schools near Paletwa town cannot open because there’s still fighting between Burma Army and Arakan Army.
“The state government told us to build temporary school buildings and we’re starting to build them in downtown Paletwa. We’re trying to get all the students in class together. Some can’t even return to their homes because their village was burned down,” Salai Aung Min told Khonumthung News.
In addition to that, he says there aren’t enough teachers to start the next school year after nearly 200 teachers, who were working in Paletwa, applied for jobs in other townships.
Fighting between Tatmadaw and AA increased in 2020, with clashes and a clearance campaign by Tatmadaw causing the displacement of thousands of villagers.