Published: 01st June 2021
Schools in Myanmar reopen with low attendance as teachers, students continue protest against military
On February 1, the Myanmar military overthrew the civilian government and declared a year-long state of emergency
Primary schools in Myanmar, which reopened on Tuesday, have reported low attendance as teachers and students continue to protest against the military coup on February 1. As the junta braces for potential bomb attacks for schools, many students across the nation have said they will boycott classes to protest what they call "military slave education."
A mother visiting an elementary school said, "This area is more stable than other areas, so [attendance] at this school is better, but still lower than last year." A small truck with security personnel regularly checks the area in search of potential conflicts, according to the mother.
Students returning to primary school for the first time in a year are showing up in their street clothes, which likely reflects fears of recrimination amid a boycott movement. At one school in Yangon, "around 50 students went inside to attend classes," far fewer than usual, a street vendor said. "And 20 of them were wearing plain clothes, so it seems they will change into their uniforms later," he said. Earlier this month, Kyodo News reported that some 10,000 teachers and others engaged in education, which account for 60 percent of the total, are refusing to go back, according to teachers' unions in the country.
According to a Myanmar Teachers' Federation source, nearly 150,000 teachers from universities and schools have been suspended for refusing to work under military rule. The number of suspended teachers is nearly equal to one-third of Myanmar's 430,000 teachers. As the military crackdown on anti-coup protesters in Myanmar continues, more than 840 people have been killed in the country so far, including three people on Sunday, according to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP).
People in Myanmar are also facing a shortage of cash and rising prices of goods and services as they are withdrawing their savings from banks out of concern for the future. In the country's largest city Yangon, people are forming long lines outside banks every day before dawn, to get cash. The shortage of cash has also made it difficult for the military to pay soldiers on time, driving some of them into looting. On February 1, the Myanmar military overthrew the civilian government and declared a year-long state of emergency. The coup triggered mass protests and was met by deadly violence.