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AIZAWL: More than 6,000 children of Myanmar nationality taking refuge in Mizoram are currently enrolled in various schools across the state, an official said on Wednesday.

State school education department director Dr H. Lalthlangliana said a majority of the Myanmar children are studying in government schools, while several are also enrolled in private schools.

“The exact figure of the Myanmar children enrolled in Mizoram schools is difficult to say as it keeps changing regularly,” he said.

He said the Myanmar children are getting good education like their local counterparts as the government does not discriminate against them because of their foreign origin.

Although official allotments like free school uniforms, textbooks and other academic-related benefits could not be given to the Myanmar children, they are provided with such benefits per convenience, he said.

The official said there is no concrete law prohibiting the Myanmar children from enrolling in Mizoram schools, but they cannot be officially treated as ‘refugee students’ because the Centre has not granted refugee status to them.

He said that the Myanmar children, generally, did not have a language barrier as most of them belonged to the Chin community, who share ethnic ties with the Mizos and also speak the Mizo language.

In some cases, the children hired teachers on their own, he said.

According to the education director, in 2021, 6,195 children from Myanmar were enrolled in various schools across Mizoram.

Of the 6,195 students, 5,221 were enrolled in government schools, 184 in government-aided schools and 790 in private schools, he said.

Lalthlangliana also said that 68 children of Myanmar nationals have enrolled for class 10 board examinations under the Mizoram Board of School Education (MBSE) during the 2021-22 academic session.

Thirty-one students appeared in the board examinations and 28 successfully passed the examinations, he said.

Recently, Mizoram University (MZU) and the Institute of Chin Affairs (ICA) announced the introduction of a diploma course in Burmese language and communication skills at MZU.

The course will be offered by MZU jointly with International Development Research Centre (IDRC) from next month, Prof Lalnilawma, head of extension education and rural development department of MZU said.

Burmese is the official language of Myanmar (also known as Burma) and is spoken by around two-thirds of the population.

ICA and Mizoram University, in a joint statement, said that the study of Myanmar culture and politics is inexorably linked with its language.
“This course is recommended to students who wish to study Myanmar’s complex, multi-layered society, and work with the many local and international agencies in Myanmar and on the border. NGOs, religious organisations, Civil Society Groups and foreign government bodies have a strong presence in Myanmar research and programming, and knowledge of the Burmese language is a clear asset in joining these agencies to
provide support,” the statement said.

The course will be led by Dr Elis Thangi, a native speaker of the Burmese language, who holds a PhD in Burmese. Dr Elis also speaks fluent Mizo, therefore, the classes will also be facilitated in Mizo and Burmese.

The course, according to Lalnilawma, aims to familiarise students of MZU with the Burmese language and culture of Myanmar in view of the border trade, which will be facilitated shortly once the bilateral Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project (KMMTTP) is completed.

The course also aims at helping interested students to work with foreign NGOs, religious organisations and government agencies, among others in Myanmar, he said.

He said the course would initially run for 10 months (Semester I & II) as one academic year, beginning October 2022.

The course is open to all interested persons, he said.

According to Lalnilawma, 7 students have registered for the diploma course so far.

Also read | Two orangutans recovered along Assam-Mizoram border

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