No Teachers at 118 Schools in Myanmar’s Chin State as Rakhine Conflict Shakes Region

By Chit Min Tun 2 October 2019

YANGON—Government officials say 118 schools in Chin State’s Paletwa Township have no teachers and 94 schools have only one teacher.

About 300 additional teachers are needed to fully staff schools in Chin State’s Paletwa Township, according to state Minister of Municipal Affairs, Electricity and Industry U Soe Htet.

The township borders on conflict areas in Rakhine State and has a total of 384 primary, middle and high schools across 388 village-tracts.

“The government assigned 360 teachers for all the primary, middle and high schools for the whole of Chin State. That number would fill the need only for Paletwa Township. For the whole state, about 600 teachers need to be assigned,” said U Soe Htet.

The minister said the 360 teachers were assigned to schools in Chin State in June this year, with the salary rate of 5,000 kyats (US$3.30) per day. Most of the assigned teachers are local residents who have graduated from university but some have only matriculated.

On the other hand, the minister said that most of the schools in Paletwa have not been able to open because of instabilities and violence between the Arakan Army (AA) and the Myanmar military.

The Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) said the group’s volunteers have helped to teach at schools in Paletwa but the unrest in the region has forced the teachers to leave.

When armed clashes broke out between the AA and the military in Paletwa in November 2018, local residents from about seven villages fled their homes and 118 schools were closed.

U Soe Htet said that the schools were reopened this June but that continued unrest in the region has frequently forced the schools to close.

In June, the AA reportedly kidnapped 19 travelers, including five teachers who worked in Paletwa, as well as the boat they were using to carry rice. The armed group later released the travelers.

“If there are armed clashes, the schools close until the clashes end. There is no safety so teachers are now afraid to be assigned to the area and they will sometimes even leave for their own safety,” said the minister. “This is not so good for the children and we hope there will be stability and peace in the area as soon as possible.”

Translated from Burmese by Zarni Mann