Almost 6,200 children of Myanmar people who fled the civil war back home are studying in schools in Mizoram, mostly in the border districts.
Officials in State capital Aizawl said most of the students who have taken refuge from across the international border are in government-run schools. A few are in private institutions.
Mizoram shares a 510 km border with Myanmar. A majority of some 40,000 Myanmar refugees in the northeastern State belong to the Chin community, ethnically related to the dominant Mizo people of Mizoram.
“The figure of Myanmar children enrolled in our schools keep changing. But in 2021, a total of 6,195 children from the neighbouring country were enrolled in schools across Mizoram,” the State’s School Education Director, H. Lalthlangliana told journalists in Aizawl.
He said the laws do not prohibit the Myanmar children from enrolling in Mizoram’s schools, but they are not treated as refugees as the Centre has not granted the status to Myanmar nationals. These children have also not been given free school uniforms, textbooks, and other benefits because of their status, he added.
Locals have been helping the Myanmar children out in many cases, officials said.
The unrest in Myanmar, however, has not stopped Mizoram University (MZU) from eyeing opportunities in that country.
The MZU has in collaboration of the U.S.-based Institute of Chin Affairs has decided to launch a diploma course in Burmese language and communication skill with support from the International Development Research Centre.
“The Central and State governments are preparing for border trade. The course is a kind of preparing the local youth for that and openings with international NGOs working in Myanmar. So, it is expected that there may be opportunities for our students in Myanmar,” Lalnilawma of the university’s Department of Extension Education and Rural Development told The Hindu.
Burmese is the official language of Myanmar and spoken by around two-third of the population. The study of Myanmar culture and politics is inexorably linked with its language and both countries share a rich heritage of linguistic, ethnic, and religious ties, he said.
“This 10-month course from October will equip students with the understanding of Burmese script, vocabulary, and grammatical structure, as well as practice in speaking, conversation and writing. Though mainly for the university fraternity, we will allow locals to join,” Prof. Lalnilawma said.