Paletwa Curfew Interfering With High School Education Initiative, Locals Say

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Education department officers in southern Chin State’s Paletwa Township say they are concerned that the ongoing curfew in the area will contribute to the continued low graduation rates among Paletwa’s high school students.

At less than 7 percent, Paletwa had the lowest matriculation exam pass rate of Chin State’s nine townships during the 2018-2019 school year. The Chin State government organized an evening study course to assist students in their exam preparation, but since the township authorities imposed a curfew under Article 144, no one is allowed out in public. The course was then canceled.

The curfew was introduced by a General Administration Department officer on November 9, after frequent clashes between the Burma Army and the Arakan Army in the township. He cited security concerns as the reason for the restrictions.

“We had already started extra reading courses. We had to stop it after Article 144 was imposed. Neither teachers nor students wanted to join the extra reading courses because of this [curfew],” Paletwa Township education department manager Salai Aung Min told Khonumthung News.

He said he was concerned that without the extra help, students’ exam scores would not improve.

“If we can not organize extra reading courses, the students will have low confidence when taking their final exam,” he explained. “We also don’t have enough teachers. We have this weakness. If we cannot continue the extra reading course, it will impact the passing rate this year.”

Pau Lum Min Thang, Chin State’s social welfare minister, said that since the curfew was imposed for security reasons, he “could not complain about it.”

“I want to suggest that students should sleep at school, study together and do their homework together,” he said, adding that he had informed Salai Aung Min of the idea and that the government would contribute to the students’ transportation costs. “I think students could go to school after dinner and study together there. Then they can go back home in the morning. It’s one possible way.”

Local news organization Khumi Media Group said that Paletwa’s curfew was affecting locals’ abilities to practice their religion and participate in community events.

“The majority of local people are Christian. Now they cannot go out to sing Christmas songs at Christmas time. They cannot freely join Christmas events at night,” Peter Lawi Luu, the editor of Khumi Media Group, told Khonumthung News. “At the same time, students cannot go to their extra reading course. It’s having a really negative impact. Now all local people are afraid of clashes. Everybody is afraid. I feel so upset for them. It should not have happened.”

According to the education department, Falam Township had the highest pass rate for the matriculation exam at more than 29 percent; still, more than two-thirds of high school students in this township were also unable to pass the test.

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