AIZAWL: More than 6,000 children of Myanmar nationals taking refuge in Mizoram are currently enrolled in various schools across the state, an official said on Wednesday. 

State school education department director Dr H. Lalthlangliana said that majority of the Myanmar children are studying in government schools, while a number of them are also enrolled in private schools. 

 “The exact figure of the Myanmar children enrolled in Mizoram schools is difficult to say as it keeps changing regularly,” he said. 

He said that the Myanmar children are given good education like their local counterparts as the government did not discriminate them because of their foreign origin. 

Although official allotment of free school uniforms, textbooks and other academic-related benefits could not be given to the Myanmar children, they are provided with such benefits as per convenience, he said.

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The official said that there is no concrete law prohibiting the Myanmar children from enrolling in Mizoram schools but they could not be officially treated as ‘refugee students’  because the Centre did grant refugee status to them. 

He said that the Myanmar children, generally, did not have a language barrier as most of them are from the Chin community, who share ethnic ties with Mizos and also speak Mizo language. 

In some cases, the children hired teachers on their own, he said. 

According to the education director, a total of 6,195 children from Myanmar were enrolled in various schools across Mizoram on 2021.

Of the 6,195 students, 5,221 were enrolled in government schools, 184 in government-aided schools and 790 were admitted in private schools, he said.

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Lalthlangliana also said that 68 children of Myanmar nationals have enrolled for class 10 board examinations under the Mizoram Board of School Education (MBSE) during the 2021-22 academic session. 

31 students appeared in the board examinations and 28 had successfully passed the examinations, he said.

Recently, Mizoram University (MZU) and the Institute of Chin  Affairs (ICA) announced the introduction of a diploma course in Burmese language and communication skills at MZU.

The course will be offered by MZU jointly with International Development Research Centre (IDRC) from next month, Prof Lalnilawma, head of extension education and rural development department of MZU said.

Burmese is the official language of Myanmar (also known as Burma) and is spoken by around two-thirds of the population. 

ICA  and Mizoram University, in a joint statement, said that the study of Myanmar culture and politics is inexorably linked with its language.

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India shares a 1600km border with Myanmar, and both countries share a rich heritage of linguistic, ethnic

and religious ties.

“This course is recommended to students who wish to study Myanmar’s complex, multi-layered society, and work with the many local and international

agencies in Myanmar and on the border. NGOs, religious organisations, Civil Society Groups and foreign government bodies have a strong presence in Myanmar research and programming, and knowledge of the Burmese language is a clear asset in joining these agencies to

provide support,” the statement said.

The course will be led by Dr Elis Thangi, a native speaker of the Burmese language, who holds a PhD in Burmese. 

Dr Elis also speaks fluent Mizo language, therefore the classes will also be facilitated in Mizo and Burmese.

The main objective of the course, according to Lalnilawma, is to familiarise students of MZU with the Burmese language and culture of Myanmar in view of the border trade, which will be facilitated in the near future once the bilateral Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project (KMMTTP) is completed.

The course also aims at helping interested students to work with foreign NGOs, religious organisations and government agencies, among others in Myanmar, he said. 

He said that the course will initially run for a period of 10 months (Semester I & II) as one academic year beginning from October 2022.

The course is open to all interested persons, he said. 

According to Lalnilawma, 7 students have registered for the diploma course so far.

As per official records, more than 30, 000 Myanmar refugees have taken sheltered in different parts of Mizoram since the military coup in February last year. 

The majority of the refugees are camping at relief camps, while some rented houses on their own and others are accommodated by their local relatives.

The government, in collaboration with village authorities and NGOs, have set up more than 150 relief camps across the state.

The refugees are provided with food and other reliefs by the state government, NGOs, churches, student bodies and village authorities.

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The state government has been conducting profiling of Myanmar nationals and issuing identity cards to them since February this year in order to maintain proper identification of the Myanmar refugees.

Mizoram shares a 510 km long international border with Myanmar.

People from Myanmar continue to trickle into the state due to armed clashes between the Myanmar Army and anti-coup protesters and underground outfits, officials said. 

During his visit to Delhi recently, Chief Minister Zoramthanga urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah that India should broker peace in coup-hit Myanmar. 

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