Myanmar’s Kachin Take Higher Education Into Their Own Hands Amid Conflict

Sandra Loyd

High school graduates in northern Myanmar’s Kachin state saw their potential customers for college and excellent tasks vanish when equipped conflict in between federal government forces and a rebel ethnic army resumed about 9 years earlier.

Looking for autonomy for the northern most state on Myanmar’s borders with China and India, Kachin insurgents had actually battled federal government forces considering that 1961 in among the nation’s several, long-running military disputes that have actually slowed down political and financial advancement.

A bilateral stop-fire in between the warring sides in 1994 ended massive battling and supplied a form of normality for common people in the conflict zone. Kachin leaders even struck a handle the main federal government to let Kachin trainees participate in federal government-run universities.

However battling resumed in June 2011 when Myanmar soldiers broke the 17- year-old truce by assaulting Kachin Self-reliance Army (KIA) soldiers, with hostilities spilling over into surrounding northern Shan state. Countless civilian passed away, and more than 100,000 were displaced.

The resumption of battling likewise suggested a breakdown of the arrangement in between the federal government and the KIA’s political wing, the Kachin Self-reliance Organization (KIO), which enabled ethnic Kachin high school graduates to participate in federal government-run colleges.

“For 17 years, those who passed the ninth standard from the KIO’s secondary high schools were allowed to take the tenth standard examination in a government school, and if they passed that, they could attend university,” stated Yaw Saung, spokesperson for the KIO’s Central Education Department in the town of Laiza.

” However starting in 2010 and 2011, there was no longer any contact in between us [and government authorities] with regard to education,” he stated.

As a result, almost 1,000 trainees who had actually passed their enlisting examinations were unable to go to college in the years that followed restored battling.

“They passed the time remaining in their own regions and running around while avoiding the war,” stated regional teacher Lu Lu Aung. “They didn’t have the chance to continue their education.”

‘Students who excel’

In reaction, the KIO chose to establish its own organization of higher discovering for ethnic trainees. It opened Mai Ja Yang National College in Mai Ja Yang, a border town in KIO-controlled area that abuts China, in September 2015.

The university provides degree programs in computer science, ecological preservation, business management, farming, nursing, law, English, and political science with courses taught in the regional language Jinghpaw, English, and Chinese.

The school works with ethnic Kachin nationals who have at least a master’s degree from schools inside Myanmar or from universities abroad to teach the courses.

“The KIO knew about this situation and made sure to open this school,” stated Lu Lu Aung, now the organization’s dean.

“The subjects are appropriate to our region and also necessary for our region,” she stated. “Therefore, the students will get information on these subjects. And we will teach them so that we produce students who excel in these subjects.”

Kachin trainees state the topics and the 3 languages in which they are taught make Mai Ja Yang National College a more appealing option than federal government-run schools in other parts of Myanmar.

“We were able to learn skills that we can put to practical use outside — skills that are really good, skills that are at a world level,” stated graduate Bauk Pan.

“We also learned about our own people,” she stated. “Because of these strengths, I attended this school.”

Kachin student Bauk Pan participates in the beginning event of the first finishing class at Mai Ja Yang National College in the border town of Mai Ja Yang, northern Myanmar’s Kachin state, Feb. 29, 2020.
Credit: RFA video screenshot

Degree not acknowledged

Since their scholastic degrees are not acknowledged by the Myanmar federal government,

However graduates likewise state they are now worried about discovering appropriate tasks.

” Since it is not a school lawfully acknowledged by the federal government, I have concerns about the level to which [my degree] will work in Myanmar and whether it will be accepted,” stated law student graduate Saing Nu Pan.

She and Bauk Pan were amongst the 82 finishing trainees that took part in the college’s first beginning event on Feb. 29.

They and their schoolmates had actually passed their college enlisting examinations while going to both federal government-run and KIO-run high schools.

Prior to battling in between the KIA and Myanmar forces appeared once again, the KIO ran 263 schools with more than 25,000 trainees, according to the KIO’s Central Education Department.

Throughout the hostilities about 150 schools were closed and over 10,000 trainees ran away to town to leave the armed conflict.

Though trainees in middle and main schools started taking classes in the area, they were still disallowed from going into college due to the fact that the education arrangement in between KIO and the federal government was null and space.

However the KIO has actually ensured that ethnic trainees will no longer be locked out of the college system, stated Nay Win, Kachin state’s minister for social affairs.

“They now have the chance to attend an official school,” he stated.

” It does not matter which one is of a higher level and which one is of a lower level, every person who has formally passes the tenth requirement [in secondary high school] can participate in an official school opened by the state and will have their full rights.”

Reported by Elizabeth Jangma for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Equated by Than Than Win. Composed in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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