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Suu Kyi pledges schooling for children from Kachin IDPs camps

Children chat as State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi visits an IDP camp outside of Myitkyina, the capital city of Kachin state, 28 March 2017. (PHOTO: Reuters)

Burma’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has pledged to assist Kachin children who are currently living in camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to receive an education.

As per an agreement made last week between Suu Kyi and the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), data from 70 IDP camps in Kachin and northern Shan State is to be submitted to her office for perusal.

Reverend Samson Hkalam, secretary of the KBC, told DVB on Tuesday that many students from IDP camps cannot currently study in state schools because they have not been issued national registration cards or school transfer forms.

“We will send all the data to the state counsellor’s office this week,” he said. “The state counsellor told me that every child has a right to education.”

According to the KBC secretary, approximately 100 children from the 70 camps may benefit by receiving permission to travel to state schools.

Suu Kyi met with a KBC delegation in Naypyidaw last week to discuss matters relating to the peace process; the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement; and IDP issues.

The IDPs camps, which currently shelter some 120,000 people, sprouted across the northern region when armed conflict resumed between Burmese government forces and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) in 2011. Most IDP camps are located in government-controlled areas.

Gum Sha Awng, a spokesperson for the Joint Strategy Team for Humanitarian Response (JST), a coalition of nine local humanitarian organisations, said on Tuesday that the JST had long lobbied the government to resolve education issues for children in IDP camps.

“We previously discussed the right to education with the state counsellor when she came to [Kachin state capital] Myitkyina,” he said. “Now that she has initiated the process, we hope that it is seen through to completion and is successful.”