22 September 2021 - Bangladesh

ROHINGYA REFUGEE CHILDREN BACK IN THE CLASSROOM AFTER ONE OF WORLD’S LONGEST SCHOOL CLOSURES

 Tomal * writing at his shelter in Cox's Bazar

More than 164,000 Rohingya children in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps in Bangladesh returned to learning centres today after one of the longest disruptions to schooling globally due to COVID-19. 

Learning centres run by humanitarian agencies, which provide primary-level education for Rohingya refugee children, were closed 18 months ago, leaving children vulnerable to child marriage and child labour as a means for families to survive.

The government announced that learning centres could reopen for children in grades two to four after a drop in positive testing rates for COVID-19 nationally and in Cox’s Bazar to around 5% this week from over 30% in early August. Bangladeshi schools reopened on September 12 but Rohingya children were still waiting to resume their education.

Save the Children welcomed the re-opening of learning centres but called on the government to allow other age groups to also return to their classrooms and for a pilot programme using the curriculum from Myanmar. About 456,000 children are living among almost 900,000 refugees in the camps at Cox’s Bazar.

Taslim,* 9, said it would help for teachers to use the Myanmar curriculum and to have teachers from Myanmar.

This would help me to be a doctor or teacher and be able to fulfil my dreams,” she told Save the Children.

Save the Children’s Bangladesh Country Director, Onno Van Manen, said Rohingya children and families were keen to return to learning and quality education.

Efforts need to be re-doubled to provide quality education to Rohingya children. This can be achieved through community outreach to convince families to send their children back to school and by urgently resuming the rollout and expansion of the pilot program to allow Rohingya children to study in their mother-tongue using the curriculum,” he said.

Save the Children, with the help of Rohingya and Bangladeshi teachers, have provided education to Rohingya refugees and the host community at 100 learning centres in Cox’s Bazar camps since 2017 when almost one million Rohingya refugees fled Myanmar into Bangladesh. 

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