Myo Thiri Kyaw| DMG
19 January 2021, Sittwe 

Teachers from private schools and boarding schools in Arakan State are facing difficulties amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to U Myint Thaung, chair of the Private School Teachers’ Association in Sittwe.  

Many say they cannot earn money while in-person schooling is suspended due to COVID-19, but likewise cannot do other business as they do not have enough money to invest, or they are facing job scarcity, he said. 

“They have to be thrifty to overcome the hardships amid the pandemic. The families with more children will face more difficulty for their daily lives. They have to wait for when school can resume,” he said. 

An online conference was held on January 17 in an effort to address the situation of students, parents and teachers in Arakan State amid the pandemic. 

In-person schooling has been suspended for nearly six months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, some male teachers are working as drivers and some female teachers are working in online shopping to earn money for their livelihoods, U Myint Thaung said.   

Since boarding school attendance was suspended earlier than private school equivalency, owners of boarding schools want to allow the resumption of boarding schools when high schools resume attendance. 

U Thein Win, a boarding school teacher, said: “I have already paid for the room for a year. I spent the money in advance. I might face financial difficulties to resume the business. I’d like to request the resumption of boarding schools when high schools reopen.” 

Daw Hla Win Phyu said students from the state capital Sittwe can access online education, but students from the north of the state are losing their right to online education because of internet restrictions in the conflict-affected areas. 

“Students from conflict-affected areas are facing clashes and the COVID-19 pandemic. When they are taking shelter at an IDP camp, they lose their rights to access online education. Some students drop out of school and work. They believe that they cannot access education and cannot complete their education due to war,” she said. 

She added that students from armed conflict areas should have 4G internet service so that they can reasonably access online education.

U Tun Kyi Naing, vice chair of the Private School Teachers’ Association in Sittwe, said people in Arakan State feel their eyes and ears are being forcibly shut due to COVID-19, civil war and internet restrictions. 

From July 21 to August 26 of last year, schools in Myanmar were gradually allowed to reopen if they met certain COVID-19 prevention standards, but they were shuttered once again nationwide on August 27 as community infection rates were rising to concerning levels.

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