Buthidaung: Five students in western Burma’s Arakan State drowned when their ferry sank as they were traveling to school, said family members.
The tragedy occurred in Nwa Ron Daung Village 30 miles south of Buthidaung in the early morning last Friday after the ferry boat broke down in the middle of the river.
“When the row boat capsized on the river there were 18 students. Among them five students, including four schoolgirls and one schoolboy were killed,” a family member said.
Zaw Zaw Oo, Ma Pru Pru Khin, and Ma Than Than Nu from class 7, Ma Aye San from class 6, and Ma English from class 8 were drowned, while several other students were rescued by local villagers.
Nwa Ron Daung Village has over 300 households but does not have a government middle school. Because of this, the students in the village have to travel to attend a school in Zaydi Daung 7 miles to the south, and must cross a river in a ferry row boat to get there.
“Our village deserves a middle school because there are many students. We have proposed to government officials here to allow a middle school in our village but the government authority has neglected our proposal. If a middle school were in our village, my children would not face this tragedy,” said a family member.
In Nwa Ron Daung Village there is only a primary school, and children have to travel elsewhere to attend school once they pass the primary level.
Many villages in Arakan State need middle schools, but the government is unable to open middle schools in every such village in the state due to budget shortfalls in the education sector.