IDP students cut off from higher education

By SU MYAT MON | FRONTIER

YANGON — The government needs to create a pathway for young people living in IDP camps on the Thai border to study at universities in Myanmar, civil society groups say.

The call was made by three groups — Burma Link, the Karen Student Network Group (KSNG) and the Karen Youth Organization (KYO) — at the launch of a documentary, “Unrecognized Leaders, Tomorrow’s Hope: Raising the Voices of Forgotten Youth”, in Yangon on Wednesday.

Shot from September 2016 to January 2017, the documentary highlights the difficulties that the estimated 20,000 students in IDP camps face in accessing education.

KSNG president Saw Htoo Htoo Stin said the government’s refusal to recognise certificates issued by schools within the camps meant students there had lost hope of furthering their education.

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“Most of youths there know that they do not have any hope for their future,” he said.

“I would like to urge the government to recognise the certificates that young people in IDP camps have,” he said.

Saw Myo Min Thu, executive director of Thabyay Education Foundation, said it was important that all young people were given a chance to contribute to the country’s development.

“If those youth [in IDP camps] are neglected by the government, it will be a cause of concern over the next five years,” he said.

More broadly, he said that ethnic youth organisations had been frozen out of both the peace process and the formal education sector.

“If the government does not have a definite role in the education for those people devastated by the war, then the policy will not be adequate and could have bad effects.”

He said the education policy being proposed for next five years is better than in the past but still has many weaknesses. He said it could be improved through greater consultation with non-profit education organisations.

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