Displaced Families Worry About Sending Children To School After Lockdown Ends

By Network Media Group
Friday, June 5, 2020

Displaced Kachin families, unable to work for months during a lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, wonder how they will pay school expenses for their children once classes resume at the start of July.

“I’m worried that when schools open again, I can’t afford the school fee for my children,” says Ma Lahpai Bawk Nan, who lives in KBC Mai Ner IDP (internally displaced person) camp, located in Waingmaw township. “We have not been able to work, so it will be difficult to pay for it and for the school uniform.”

In addition to the school fee and uniform, families say they have to buy their children a bag, an umbrella and a raincoat.

Roi Ja, head of Jam Mai Kawng IDP camp in Myitkyina, told NMG that for teenage children attending high school, their parents usually send them to boarding school because the camp is so noisy they can’t study. But now that everyone is out of work, no one has any money to pay for boarding.

Last year, some groups paid school fees to children, but parents aren’t sure they will get the same help this school year.

Life was already difficult before the pandemic started, say the IDPs, but now it’s really hard.

Nu Sawng, who lives in KBC Mai Ner IDP camp in Waingmaw township, told NMG he doesn’t think parents will be able to send their children to school this year and they’ll fall behind in their studies.

As IDPs, he said their “situation is completely different than for others” who can still work on their farms during the pandemic. “We don’t have any farmland, yet we just know how to be farmers. And in this situation, we can’t do anything and why we’re facing so many difficulties.”

All camps in Waingmaw and Myitkyina townships have been locked since the beginning of April, with no one allowed to leave.