Alcohol Licensing Fuels Abuse Among Chin Students
14 March 2011: Rising alcohol abuse among Chin students studying at Kalay University has been linked with a growing number of licensed distilleries near the university campus.
Kumaing (Mile 9) village is located on the inter-state border of Chin State’s Tedim Townsip and Sagaing Division’s Kalay Township. On the Kalay side of Kumaing is the Kalay University, which has the highest post-secondary level enrolment of ethnic Chin students in all of Burma.
“There are now 32 different households on the Chin State side of Kumaing, who have been licensed by the local authorities to produce locally distilled rice wine. Each distillery produce at least 30 bottles a day,” said a former student residing in Kalay Town.
Students of Kalay University, who are predominantly ethnic Chins from Chin State, are the primary consumer.
“At least 100 bottles are being sold to the students every day. Imagine the alcohol consumption rate among the students!” he said.
One bottle of alcohol is sold at 600 Kyats (About 60 cents US).
In exchange for their alcohol production permits, each lincensee pays 100,000 (100 USD) Kyats a year to the local police.
Alcohol problems among Chin students studying at Kalay University has been reported for some time. But in recent months, there has been an increase in the number of Chin students consuming alcohol, along with other alcohol-related social problems, including brawls and motorbike accidents that often turned fatal, as a result of drunk-driving.
With a population of about half a million, Chin State has no higher learning institution.
Chin students must pursue their post-secondary education outside of Chin State, such as Kalay in Sagaing Division.
In his report to the United Nations Human Rights Council this week, UN the rights expert Tomas Quintana noted that the lack of higher learning institution in Chin State places extra financial burdens on parents, as well as added barrier for access to education for the Chins.