April 11, 2021
National

High school students forced to go to class at weekends

31 August 2013: Parents and teachers from Christian families in Chin State complain about their children having to go to school on Saturdays and sometimes, Sundays.

High school students go to school mostly on Saturdays in substitution of Uposatha, a Buddhist day of observance which falls during the weekdays.

A Chin community leader, who asks not to be named, said: “It is not a public holiday but it is an order we have to follow. The day keeps changing during the week.”

Uposatha, known in Burmese as ubot nei, is observed in accordance with the four phases of the moon: waxing moon, full moon, waning moon and new moon, according to sources.

In Hakha, parents said schools were closed on Wednesday the previous week and last Thursday, adding: “Our children go to school almost every Saturday including today.”

Chin reporter Salai Thang said, “This has been going on for years and now people even seem to have got used to Saturday’s school.”

In Chin State, where over 90 percent of the population are Christian, parents get worried as children are affected in their religious education and contacts.

A parent in Hakha, from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, said: “We feel really concerned that our children have missed several church services as we worship on Saturday.”

Children sometimes had to go to school on Sundays, meaning they would not be able to worship at church as Christians, according to a father in Thantlang.

Pastor Shwekey Hoipang, originally from Mindat in Chin State, said: “This is a long-planned implementation of indoctrinating Christian children with Buddhism. This can in the long run lead to loss of ethnic identity through an unwritten policy of Burmanization.”

A Chin Christian mother of four in Kalay town of Sagaing Region said she would have to arrange someone else to look after her children while she was working.

Rangoon-based Chin community leader also told Chinland Guardian that his children had to go to school on Saturday, adding: “This is not fair.”

It is believed that Uposatha substitution will happen until the end of October this year.#

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