Yangon schools reopen with soldiers – but not many students

Students change into uniforms upon arrival Monday morning to a school in Yangon’s Thingyanugan Township. Photo: Mercury Media
Students change into uniforms upon arrival Monday morning to a school in Yangon’s Thingyanugan Township. Photo: Mercury Media

Soldiers greeted students returning to class at Yangon’s schools today when they reopened on order of the ruling junta.

After students were urged to boycott classes to deny the junta the semblance of normality it seeks, residents in several neighborhoods described a security presence at local schools this morning – but few students.

“I saw many soldiers loaded into two pickup trucks and police in four; a total 20 at the front gate of No. 3, Basic Education High School, Sanchaung this morning when I went to the nearby market,” a 32-year-old woman in Sanchaung Township who asked that her name not be used for fear of reprisal told Coconuts.

What she didn’t see were many students. “I saw some teachers and young students,” she added.

Some students were seen filing back to class in Yangon’s Htauk Kyant townships, according to a resident who also did not want their name used.

It’s unclear how heeded a Friday call from young students from Mingala Taung Nyunt and North Okkala townships to stage and education strike to support teachers and students killed, kidnapped, and imprisoned by the state.

“We cannot attend schools under SAC,” they declared, using an acronym of the ruling junta’s preferred name, the State Administration Council.

Though turnout did not appear to be high, based on anecdotal evidence, the pressure campaign led many students at one school in Thingangyun Township to hide their uniforms until they were on campus, according to one report.

All private and monastic schools under the Department of Basic Education were ordered last week to open Monday.

The announcement came after the COVID-19 infection rate fell to 799 new cases and 19 deaths on Thursday. The nation has counted nearly 500,000 infections since the pandemic began, but the real number is believed to be much higher.

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Schools in states such as Magway, Sagaing, Kayah, and Chin, where fierce clashes between the military and insurgent forces are taking place, will remain closed.

They had briefly reopened in June, four months after the coup d’etat; however, all were shut after a month due to spread of the disease.

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