Even before COVID-19 and the instability of the coup came to Myanmar, the country struggled to keep their kids in school. Before the coup, according to UNICEF, only one in ten children between the ages of six and nine were going to school, and seven out of every ten of those kids remained in school until they were 15 years old. Education — or the lack of it — shapes and directs each of these children’s paths for the rest of their lives.
Now, Myanmar’s sharply escalating political crisis has severely damaged its already struggling education system. Almost 12 million students’ educations have been disrupted since the coup. Schools have been affected by outbreaks of fighting and have suffered from targeted attacks, which many suspect are perpetrated by military-backed Pyu Saw Htee groups seeking to tarnish the image of civilian resistance fighters. The military has taken over certain schools as makeshift base camps, and reports continue to come in of active military attacks on students and teachers in places of learning.
A few months ago, the military announced that schools were re-opening, but attendance has been very small. At one university in the Tanintharyi Region, where about 1,000 students were expected, a mere 18 students came for classes. Those who did come were reportedly intimidated and interrogated. Many professors and students have refused to return to school, both out of fear of the military and a desire to honor teachers and others in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) who have lost their lives or jobs in the protests. Only a quarter of the expected 12 million students signed up for classes this fall.
In the midst of all the uncertainty surrounding these children and their futures, some teachers who have left their positions in junta-run schools are taking the risk of teaching children privately. In one state, 40 compassionate and generous teachers — previously under the employment of the government — have volunteered their talents to help 200 children get an online education. Though serving under the threat of arrest from the junta, these teachers are willing to risk everything for the sake of helping bring education to Myanmar’s next generation.
To support ministries that are serving children and their families in Myanmar, you can give below:
1. Pray that God gives students and teachers alike a wisdom that only comes from Him, and grow them in the fear and love of the Lord.
2. Pray that the Lord would use online schooling to create a sense of stability in the lives of these children, and would raise up and care for many more teachers to serve the next generation.