Updated: September 03, 2021 08:24 AM GMT
Myanmar refugees walk along the banks of the Tiau River, a natural border between India and Myanmar, at Zokhawthar in India's northeastern state of Mizoram on March 15. (Photo: AFP)
Refugee children from families who fled Myanmar after the military coup will get a chance to attend schools in India’s Mizoram state following a directive from the government to allow admissions.
The Mizoram government has requested all district education officers to admit children of Myanmar refugees in order to continue their schooling.
“I am to state that Chapter 2(4) of the Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act [RTE] 2009 mentioned that children aged between six and 14 years belonging to disadvantaged communities have the right to be admitted to school in a class appropriate to his or her age for completing elementary education,” James Lalrinchhandsa, the state’s director of school education, said in a letter on Aug. 31.
“I, therefore, request you to take necessary action on admission to migrant/refugee children in your jurisdiction to school so that they can continue their schooling.”
The order did not specifically mention children from families of Myanmar refugees.
Mizoram’s minister for school education, however, told the Hindustan Times that the directives were largely intended for the children of Myanmar nationals who entered Mizoram following the coup in February.
People from Myanmar fleeing threats to their lives and liberty should be offered a safe haven in India, not detained and deprived of their rights
“The decision was taken by the department on compassionate and humanitarian grounds. Even the RTE Act mentions the right of children to receive education,” said Lalchhandama Ralte.
He added that there are nearly 400 children of Myanmar refugees who fall in the age group of six to 14. Most are in Champhai and Aizawl districts. They will be admitted to government schools from September.
Mizoram shares a long border with Myanmar where the military seized power on Feb. 1 after toppling Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government and putting several political leaders behind bars.
About 16,000 people from Myanmar have crossed into four bordering Indian states — Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh — while fleeing violence and repression, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Politicians, lawmakers, police and their families were among the refugees, mostly from Chin state which borders Champhai district in Mizoram.
The Myanmar junta has killed at least 1,040 people and detained more than 6,000 activists, journalists, civil servants and politicians. Many are in hiding for fear of being arrested.
In March, India's federal government directed the four states that share a land border with Myanmar to stop illegal migrants and deport them back to Myanmar, according to media reports.
Following the directive, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga wrote to Prime Minister Narenda Modi on March 18 stating that the order was not acceptable to the state.
HRW has called on Indian authorities to treat those seeking refuge with dignity and provide them protection from further abuse.
“People from Myanmar fleeing threats to their lives and liberty should be offered a safe haven in India, not detained and deprived of their rights,” HRW South Asia said in July.
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