Education

Myanmar closes schools nationwide amid spike in Covid-19 cases

Yangon, Myanmar, Aug 28 (efe-epa).- Myanmar has decided to close schools nationwide country as Covid-19 cases spiked in the country in the last few days.

“As some students from high schools tested positive, the national level committee (of education) decided not to proceed as previously planned,” Ko Lay Win, director-general of the Department of Basic Education, told EFE on Friday.

The decision was taken following the recommendations of the central committee set up to manage the government’s response to the epidemic, he said.

Myanmar has a total of 628 infections of the novel coronavirus and six deaths among its 53 million inhabitants and appeared for weeks to have the epidemic under control.

However, the country has been experiencing a rise in cases in recent days, especially in the eastern state of Arakan (also known as Rakhine) bordering Bangladesh and which was quarantined on Thursday.

On Thursday, the country’s more than 6,000 schools that had obtained permission to reopen on July 21 were closed while primary schools have yet to begin the school year, which normally starts in early June and ends in late February.

The closure of schools affects a total of about 16 million school-age students, just over 6 million of whom are in secondary schools, according to Unesco’s data, and has been received with concern by many Burmese parents.

“I’m so worried that our sons will loss one year in the education. At first they [government] said students must learn from Zoom, we even bought laptops for our sons. Now another announcement has come. We have no idea,” Tun Thant, father of two primary school students and resident of the capital, Naypyitaw, told EFE.

Khin Oo Shwe, a 56-year-old woman from Buthidaung District in northern Arakan, supports the decision to close schools, though not necessarily for the same reasons as those put forward by the government.

“Actually we’re (more) afraid of the war than coronavirus, we’re always hiding in the makeshift bomb shelter. In that situation, if our kids have to go to schools, it’s nonsense,” she told EFE.

Since January 2019, the northern part of Arakan, which has three million inhabitants, has become the scene of a fierce war between the Myanmar armed forces and the guerrillas of the Arakan Army.

The conflict has already displaced 150,000 civilians and in which human rights organizations have repeatedly reported the bombing of schools. EFE-EPA

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