Not Enough Schools For Children Displaced By Conflict

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Civil society organizations (CSOs) in southern Chin state say the government’s efforts to build schools for internally displaced children are not enough. With schools resuming soon, there are still not enough buildings for classes or even materials to hold them in war-torn Paletwa Township.

The Chin State government is building several ’80 by ’30 temporary buildings at Sami High School and Lake Hkone Middle School in Sami town. But they are not big enough for everyone to attend classes.

Over 3,300 people fled clashes between Arakan Army (AA) and the Burma Army, of which 800 are children.

Zaw Li Awng, director of People’s Hope, told Khonumthung News with many Chin migrant workers returning from neighboring India he worries about the second outbreak of COVID-19.

The government has announced that all schools in Burma must adhere to strict social distancing when they open and Zaw Li Awng says the buildings under construction can only receive about 200 students. They need at least two more, so everyone to go to school, he says, but the problem is that all the money is coming from the government. They don’t have private donors in Burma or from abroad. Because high schools will be the first to start, there’s still time to make more buildings for the children, Zaw Li Awng explains.

It’s not enough to just have tables and class chairs, he says. The students also need desks. But it’s really hard to make them now because the rainy season has started. They also need umbrellas, school uniforms and bags.

In the town of Paletwa, where there are 5,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), of whom 1,134 are students, there’s also a shortage of school buildings, as well as educational materials and uniforms.

Zarni, who works with a CSO, says the government plans to build more temporary school buildings on the grounds of the town’s two high schools.

“Once classes are opened for them, primary and secondary school students will also study in the temporary school buildings. All students will need to provide their own school uniform, stationery, pen and books,” he says.

Because of the conflict, Zaw Li Awng says it’s difficult to find teachers who are willing to move to Paletwa. Although the government claims teachers will arrive once classes start up again, he says.

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