As many as 20,000 villagers from 27 villages have been displaced in recent Burma Army offensives in Kawkareik Township. Local schools under the administration of the Kawthoolei Education and Culture Department (KECD) have been forced to close and students pushed to take exams early.
Saw Gay Doh, the principal of the Pu Yay high school that had to close because of recent fighting spoke to Karen News.
“The Burma Army is getting closer and closer to our area. There has been fighting. Some students in our school come from far away villages, their parents are worried and call us. When education officials told us to close the school we did so for about a week. Children who could return to their homes were allowed to return home. Some children couldn’t go back to their homes as they live too far away. When the school is closed, the children are given time to self-study.”
Saw He Khu, joint secretary of the KECD in Kawkareik Township, told Karen News that currently there were 10 schools in KNU Kawkareik Township that had closed due to armed conflict in the area and that the rest of the schools still opened are concerned.
Saw He Khu told Karen News. “Some schools are too close to where the military is operating, so these schools cannot open. Some schools said they would allow students to take their exams early. Schools are not reopened if the situation is the same. If the situation worsens, we will close for this school year. The Burma Army offensive has disrupted the students’ learning.”
An official from the township education department, estimated there are three high schools, five middle schools, thirty-eight primary schools, and two post-ten schools with college-level, making up a total of 46 schools operating under KECD in Kawkareik Township in this 2021-2022 academic year.
Local KECD education officials said fighting had spread out from Dooplaya District and had forced at least two schools in Doo Tha Htoo District to close.
Because most government schools have been closed following the military coup, parents took to enrolling their children in schools run under KECD in KNU-controlled areas, increasing the number of enrolled students in most of KECD run schools this year.
In the 2020-2021 academic year, there were more than 100,000 students enrolled in 1,361 schools under KECD, and the number of enrolled students increased by more than 5,000.