Conflicts & War

Refugee children overcome language barrier to pursue education in India

By Sangzuala Hmar

Thingsai, India, Oct 16 (EFE).- Child refugees from Myanmar have started attending classes at schools in the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram, overcoming language barriers and the myriad other obstacles they are faced with as they try to continue their education and rebuild their lives in a foreign land.

More than 350 child refugees have joined classrooms in the far eastern districts of Champhai and Hnahthial after escaping the ongoing civil conflict in Myanmar, which was unleashed following a military coup in February.

“My school has enrolled 45 children, which outnumbers our existing students. We are trying our very best to make these children feel at home,” Laltanpuia Khawlhring, head teacher of Thingsai Primary School-IV tells EFE.

Thingsai village in Hnahthial district of Mizoram shelters more than 150 refugees and has enrolled 65 refugee children in primary, middle, high and higher secondary schools.

After discussions, council leaders and villagers of Thingsai felt that it was their duty to provide these children with the opportunity to get education.

“We just couldn’t watch these refugee kids just roaming the woods and do nothing about it,” said P.C. Lalremkunga, Thingsai village Village Council president.

“We believe it is our duty to give them what they deserve: a right to education. Schools in our village are a bit crowded, but then we don’t care, no matter where they are from, they too deserve the amenities our children deserve.”

The enrolment followed the Mizoram government’s Aug. 31 directive to all state education officers to admit Myanmar children into local schools.

Mizoram education minister Lalchhandama Ralte said the decision was taken “purely on humanitarian grounds” in accordance with Indian law  – namely the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act, which gives children the right to education.

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