Due to internal conflict in Myanmar over a number of years there are large numbers of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) on both sides of the Thai/Burma (Myanmar) border. Recent years have seen a tenuous peace emerge, but some people are still not able to return home, and in some cases, have no home. These refugees and IDPs live in regions where there is limited government provision of services, few or no schools, extremely limited health care. Our implementing partners are running schools in IPD camps and resettled communities in order to provide children with the opportunity to benefit from the current peace.
WHAT WE LIKE ABOUT IT
Leaders among the displaced people have assumed authority. Young people are being taught leadership, language skills, basic computer use and ways of conflict resolution other than fighting. Nine schools of all levels have been established in remote locations, employing 75 teachers and teaching 2100 students of all grades. Entrust is supporting two of these schools and 750 students.
Leaders, village people and students, all wanting change, have adopted the schools with enthusiasm. They are keen to succeed – putting effort into constructing buildings from jungle materials, training teachers, being accountable and well organised. Entrust’s partners are among the very few who are able to gain access to this very difficult and needy area.
Many thousands have fled oppression, injustice and displacement in the eastern areas of Myanmar and became refugees in Thailand. The military regime has perpetrated destruction, cruelty and abuse, denying large numbers of people basic human rights. Military activity, a difficult terrain and limited means of communication have placed these people beyond the reach of aid agencies and NGOs.
We understand that in any conflict there are two sides. There has been a growing realisation that self-respect, human dignity and progress are not achieved through destructive conflict. At present, both sides are in the courageous process of adopting strategies that will facilitate a new and lasting peaceful co-existence and social development.
It is the children who are the future of Myanmar and who will set the tone for engagement with the Myanmar government in years to come. Without the jungle schools there would be no education, and no hope of a better life.