Months after conflict, hundreds of students still out of school in Kyaukme

By MRATT KYAW THU | FRONTIER

YANGON — Hundreds of children are afraid to go back to class in Kyaukme, the month after schools reopened in the area, fearful that intermittent conflict could resume between armed groups laying competing claims to territory in the Shan State township.

A total of 205 students hailing from Thawtsan village are sitting the school term out, compared to 98 who are attending class, according to local sources.

Fierce clashes between the Ta’ang National Liberation Army and the Shan State Army-South erupted in February around Thawtsan (also spelled , around 65 kilometres from Kyaukme. Over 4,000 people were displaced from the area, and a number remain out of their homes.

U Sai Tun Nyan, a lawmaker representing Kyaukme in the Shan State assembly, said even with the cessation of fighting some armed groups were still active in the Thawtsan area.

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Thawtsan’s high school had an enrolment of around 400 students before the clashes, at least 100 of whom remain outside of the village.

Around 95 Thawtsan students and their families came to take shelter at the Aung Su Pan monastery in July, with around 70 remaining. Despite donations from wealthy locals, monks say they are now struggling to feed the group.

“They donated when it was popular to do so, but now I think they consider the situation back to normal,” said U Khemaka, the presiding monk of Aung Su Pan monastery. “But I have to feed the children as usual.”

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