Students Mark ‘Historic Moment’ of First Mai Ja Yang College Graduation

Sunday, March 1, 2020

The first graduation ceremony for a college in territory controlled by the Kachin Independence Organization/Army (KIO/A) was held this weekend.

Some 82 students graduated from Mai Ja Yang college in the area by the same name, with the commencement ceremony taking place on February 29.

“This is the first graduation in our college. For me, it’s a historic moment. I am so proud of myself and I feel so happy,” Bawk Hkawng, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics, told NMG.

Principal of Mai Ja Yang College Dr. Lu Lu Awng said that five Bachelor’s degrees were offered: English, politics, computer science, development studies, and environmental management; development studies was the most popular major, with 25 enrollees, followed closely by English with 20.

“We will teach more courses in the future. It depends on the interests of our students. We want to provide a high quality education,” Dr. Lu Lu Awng told NMG, adding that journalism was now on offer as part of a 10-month certificate course.

Those who enroll in Mai Ja Yang College may have completed school in KIO-controlled areas, but the students also include graduates from Burmese government schools.

“I passed my Grade 10 examination in the government’s school. If I had gone to a government university, I feel that I would not have been able to enroll in a practical course,” Bawk Hkawng said, explaining her choice to study in Mai Ja Yang. “Going to the KIO’s college, we can have a better quality of education, and I can learn more about our history. That’s why I came to attend this college.”

Dr. Lu Lu Awng said that the college was opened in Mai Ja Yang because students from KIO-controlled areas were unable to attend government school after the Burma Army and KIA started fighting again in 2011.

“KIO leaders, Kachin people living abroad and educated Kachin people who live inside Burma held a meeting and discussed opening a Kachin college. All ethnic Kachin people need their own college,” the principal explained, referring to a meeting in July 2015. “Three months after the meeting [in September 2015], we opened our Mai Ja Yang College.”

The current political situation in Burma—which includes ongoing fighting and no new ceasefire with the KIO or its northern allies—“pushes us” to run this school, she added.