On his first day in Class 9 at his new school, Rampengthua was in tears.
“I cried a lot that day,” said the 15-year-old, recalling that day in September 2021 when he joined the Government Thanchhuma High School in Farkawn, a village in Mizoram’s Champhai district. “I did not understand a word of what I was being taught,” he said.
Rampengthua’s distress was natural. The classes were being held in English and Mizo, languages he did not understand.
Back home in Chin state, Myanmar, he spoke Hakha at home and Burmese or Myan in school.
But a few months earlier, Rampengthua and his family had left his home behind. They made a dangerous journey on foot, abandoning their home of many years and crossed over to Farkawn – just as thousands of people from Myanmar had arrived in India in March 2021, when the military junta seized power from a democratically elected government.
Mizoram opened its doors to the Chin refugees, with whom the Mizos share ethnic ties. Relief camps were set up, and civil society groups pitched in to help the displaced.
In August 2021, the Mizoram government allowed children of refugee families to continue their education in government-run schools.
Despite his struggle with language, Rampengthua saw that being admitted to a school…