Over 1900 children of Myanmar nationals, who took refuge in Mizoram after fleeing a military coup in the trouble-hit neighbouring country in February last year, are currently enrolled in various schools across the state to receive free education, an official said on Tuesday.
Education department director James Lalrinchhana said that the state government has begun enrolling children of Myanmar nationals in schools since August for free education.
The initiative was taken purely on humanitarian grounds based on the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which envisages free education to children aged between 6 and 14 years irrespective of nationality, he said.
“We can’t ignore the request of migrant Myanmar leaders. We can also face backlash from the international community unless education is provided to the nationals, who fled their country due to humanitarian crisis,” he said.
According to him, a total of 1972 Myanmarese children, comprising of 1010 boys and 962 girls are currently studying different standards in various schools across the state as per the latest update on Sunday.
Their number keeps changing as continuous updation is being maintained every week due to new entry of refugees, which necessitated new enrolment, he said.
He said the Myanmarese children are mostly enrolled in government schools.
No separate medium of instruction or teachers has been arranged for the children as most of them understand Mizo and English, he said.
According to education department’s data, the Refugee students are enrolled in schools across all eleven districts with Champhai having the highest number at 711, followed by Lawngtlai at 539 and Hnahthial district at 341.
At least 70 children of Myanmar nationals are studying in Mizoram’s capital Aizawl, the data said.
A total of 122 children are in pre-primary, 1,704 in elementary (classes 1 to 8), 140 in high schools (class 9 and 10) and the remaining 6 students are in higher secondary schools (class 11 and 12), it said.
At least 74 students, including 41 girls, are studying class 10 while two boys and a girl are reading class-12, it said.
The number of Myanmar children reading in class-1 is highest at 427, the data said.
Mizoram shares a 510 km long international border with Myanmar’s Chin state.
The state has been witnessing an influx from the neighbouring since late February after the military coup.
Fresh influx was reported in September following the military offensive in the wake of a nationwide uprising called by the Burmese government-in-exile, National Unity Government (NUG).
According to police, over 13,000 Myanmar nationals are currently taking shelter in the state and more people are continuously entering border districts in small numbers almost every day due to clashes between Myanmar military and civilians.
Majority of the Myanmar nationals are lodged in relief camps set up by villagers, while others live with their relatives in the state and some others rented houses, police said.
They are given food, utensils, blankets and other assistance by local people, NGOs and churches, they said.
For several times, the Mizoram government had appealed to the Centre to provide assistance to the displaced Myanmar nationals but the Centre is yet to respond.