As part of their recent signed ceasefire agreement, local government authorities and leaders of Karen armed groups put away their weapons and attended a school opening ceremony at Leh Haw village under Kawkareik last week.
The village head, Saw Pha Ta Pot, Karen National Liberation Army officers, Democratic Karen Buddhist Army representatives and government officials pledged to encourage and support children’s education in the village.
Saw Pha Ta Pot told Karen News.
“The leaders have come here and cheered us on. They said to us that they planned to build trust and understanding between the three groups in an effort to support children’s education – they wore happiness on their face.”
Local villagers say this is the first time since the ceasefire agreement that they have seen officers from different armed groups working together for the benefit of the community.
Last year the Leh Haw village school had three teachers that provided primary grade schooling to grade 4, this year the school will be offering education to grade 6 for 50 students.
Saw Pha Ta Pot, the Leh Haw village head said.
“In the past our children did not have an opportunity to study in a stable environment as there was a lot of fighting between the armed groups. School children had to flee from the fighting – now we hope
they will enjoy a peaceful situation this year.”
In previous years Leh Haw villagers were often caught in fighting between the KNLA and the Burma Army. Following the 2010 national elections extensive fighting broke out between the DKBA and government troops that forced as many as 36,000 villagers to take refuge across the border in Thailand.