Jailed activists’ children get school aid

Education for the children of more than 100 political prisoners in Burma yesterday received a small boost yesterday after the National League for Democracy (NLD) made its tenth schooling donation.

Speaking at an event at the NLD’s Rangoon headquarters yesterday, Aung San Suu Kyi said that the nearly 2,100 political prisoners in Burma were jailed “for their work in making the country freer for its 60 million people”, according to NLD spokesperson Ohn Khaing.

Suu Kyi reportedly added that “every citizen should have a right to self-determination and to take part in shaping the country the way they want it to be”.

Around 40,000 kyat ($US50) was given to the children of 123 activists, MPs, lawyers and doctors who languish in prisons across the country. The absence of an earning parent has meant children of political prisoners often struggle to pay for schooling.

A new government budget announced in March allocates less than one percent of annual spending to the education sector, and 1.3 percent on healthcare. Military spending meanwhile accounts for nearly a quarter of the budget.

Despite once boasting a strong education sector, Burma’s now lags behind most regional countries. Education resources are scarce, although various Thailand-based NGOs provide material to schools inside the country.

The Rangoon-based Blood Group, led by NLD member Nyi Nyi, is due to open a free education centre on 18 June for orphaned and homeless children, with a view to expanding the programme.

Around 100 children have so far signed up to courses that teach manual work, literature and citizenship, amongst others.

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