How are displaced parents coping with their children’s education amid daily struggles?
Locals in Arakan State, which was hit hard by Cyclone Mocha, say that they are also facing enormous difficulties due to rising commodity prices. The current situation is already difficult for ordinary people, and even more so for the displaced. With job scarcity and declining aid, rising prices have created numerous challenges for displaced people on all fronts.
In this Vox Pop, DMG interviewed some displaced parents from different IDP camps in Arakan State to find out how they are coping and overcoming the difficulties to provide education to their children amidst daily struggles, and their experiences and challenges in this regard.
U Oo Saw Thein, Railway Station IDP camp, Kyauktaw
“After August, one of my sons will leave for distant educcation. I don’t know yet how I’m going to raise the money for it. Already I have to do odd jobs and look for bamboo shoots to afford meals every day. I go to the forests and places where people don’t dare to go to harvest vegetables and sell them to earn some money. No group or organization has supported or helped us with our children’s education. I have to work hard and save to pay for their education. The cost of education this year will be higher than last year. I endure the hardships so that my children can receive an education.”
Daw Hla Aye Soe, Mya Tan Saung IDP camp, Mrauk-U
“In the current situation, parents of high school students face more difficulties. With rising prices and dwindling aid, education has become increasingly out of reach for displaced children. But even if I don’t have an education, I want my children to have an education. Since I can’t work, I’ve been saving the meager income of my husband, who drives a motorcycle cab, for our 11-year-old son’s schooling. Since his job isn’t going well, we have to borrow money from others. As displaced parents in such a situation, we’re proud that we were able to overcome the difficulties to keep our children in school.”
Daw Oo Mya Yi, Myo Lel Chaung IDP camp, Rathedaung
“I’ve three kids in school – one in 11th grade, one in 9th, and one in 4th. It’s not easy with just one kid, let alone three. I can only afford tuition for our 11th grader because it’s important for him. The younger two have asked many times to be allowed to attend tuition classes as well, but I can’t afford it. As a parent, this makes me sad. Life is very difficult for a widow like me. I do my best because education is important. With the rising prices, I feel bad if I can’t provide them with the necessary clothes, books and school supplies. For me as a displaced person, it’s very difficult to keep my children in school.”
Daw Ma Aye Yin, Taing Nyo IDP camp, Mrauk-U
“In the current situation, we have to risk our lives for their education. We go to the forests and sell vegetables like bamboo shoots to earn some money. We do all kinds of odd jobs to finance their education. It’s not just about the textbooks, we also have to make sure they can go to school on a full stomach, that they dress properly and have the stationery they need. We have to work hard to earn enough to cover the cost of school and everything else.”
U Kyaw Sein Tun, Myo Lel Chaung IDP camp, Rathedaung
“We have four children in school. We can’t afford their tuition fees. As commodity prices have risen, so have tuition fees. We can’t let their education to be interrupted. No matter how hard it gets, we have decided not to take them out of school. Even if we can’t fully provide them with clothes and school supplies, we do our best to make sure they can eat and attend classes. For the children’s education, I do all kinds of work – looking for food like fish and doing odd jobs. Some of them are not suitable for my age. If we were back home, work would be easier. Also, we could afford school fees for the children. As IDPs, it is a huge struggle to keep our children in school despite all the challenges.”
Sent by DMG.