In a beautiful display of compassion, authorities in Mizoram have decided to permit refugee children from Myanmar to attend school in the state. The announcement was made via a circular issued by the Directorate of School Education of the Government of Mizoram.
The circular signed by James Lalrinchhana, Director of Education, is addressed to all District Education Officers and Sub Divisional Education Officers. It cites Chapter 2(4) of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), 2019 and says “children aged between 6 to 14 years belonging to disadvantaged communities have the right to be admitted to school in a class appropriate to his or her age for completing elementary education.”
The circular may be read here:
It is noteworthy that Myanmar and Mizoram share not just a border, but also several cultural elements. Many people have families on both sides of the border. Mizoram was the first to extend help to refugees fleeing Myanmar in wake of a bloody coup in February. Chief Minister Zoramthanga had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 18 about the burgeoning humanitarian crisis in the neighbouring nation and asked that “political refugees” from Myanmar be given asylum, food and shelter in India.
“India cannot turn a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in front of us in our own backyard,” Zoramthanga had written, adding that there were close ethnic and historical links between India and the neighbour as the “Myanmar area bordering Mizoram is inhabited by Chin communities who are ethnically our brethren with whom we have been having close contacts throughout all these years even before India became independent.” He had also refused to deport refugees after India sealed entry points along the border later that month itself.
Now, Mizoram continues to lead the way in treating refugees with compassion and dignity. The state is walking the talk and offering solutions to actual on-ground concerns by ensuring children’s education does not suffer. “As long as they are on Indian soil, it is our responsibility to take care of them, they cannot miss out on education so crucial to their development,” Lalrinchhana told The Indian Express.
According to IE, as of September 1, 2021, as many as 9,450 refugees are taking refuge across 10 districts of Mizoram. These include 20 Myanmarese legislators from the government overthrown by the Junta. IE also reports that Champhai district, located along the Indo-Myanmar border, is currently sheltering 4,488 refugees, the highest number, followed by capital Aizawl, which has 1,622 refugees.