Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the international community to invest in Myanmar too so that the Rohingya children can enjoy their rights, including that to education, upon their return to their homeland.
‘We're thankful to the international community for their support in providing education to the Rohingya children in Bangladesh. I call upon them to also invest in Myanmar so that these children can enjoy their rights, including the right to education, upon their return to Myanmar,’ she said.
The prime minister was addressing a roundtable discussion on 'Investment for Education of Women and Girls' organised by Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau at conference room-11 of the UN headquarters on Monday.
Sheikh Hasina proposed considering three critically important factors to address the needs of children's education in the conflict-affected context — looking into their psycho-social needs, providing them with informal and life skill-based special learning facilities, and giving them education in line with their own culture, ethnicity and language.
‘We've to understand that these children fleeing conflict, ethnic cleansing and genocide are carrying heavy psychological trauma, they can't be expected to accustom themselves to a normal school setting as the forcibly displaced Rohingya children are now living in a different cultural setting,’ she said.
The prime minister said such education would help them keep their original identity and prepare them for their life ahead once they return to their homeland.
She said many people around the world were confronting violence. ‘Terrorism and violent extremism are uprooting people from their homeland. More than 65 million people remain displaced and the number is increasing every day. A majority of them are women and children.’
Sheikh Hasina said the issue of these refugees and forcibly displaced people was sensitive and delicate. ‘They're traumatised, destitute and carrying horrific experiences of violence and atrocities. Many of these communities have suffered oppression and discrimination for decades in their homeland.’
Terming Bangladesh a peace-loving country, she said Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, founding president of the country, fought against violence, deprivation and inequality. ‘Unfortunately, we're bearing the brunt of violence in another country. Currently, Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals. They've fled violence and 'genocide' in Myanmar where they lived for centuries.’
The prime minister mentioned that the Rohingyas had been subjected to discriminatory state policies over decades and they are deprived of their rights to education, healthcare and freedom of movement. ‘They're even stripped of their citizenship,’ she said.
‘As they were fleeing atrocities in Myanmar, we opened our border for them and stood beside them. Our people opened their houses and shared their food during the most critical phase,’ she added.
Sheikh Hasina said around 55 per cent of the Rohingyas hosted in Bangladesh are children.
She said 1,106 learning centres had been established in partnership with UNICEF for imparting informal education to these Rohingya children. ‘These centres are providing psycho-social support and basic life skill training to one hundred and thirty-six thousand Rohingya children,’ she said.
The prime minister said they continued their efforts in adding new learning centres and distributing learning kits to the children. ‘We've to bear in mind that the children fleeing conflict are in dire condition. They're devastated and lost. They require special attention,’ she said.
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