THE Rohingyas sheltered in Bangladesh have been in a survival state, especially since 2017 — when the latest large-scale spate of violence against and persecution of them by Myanmar’s military broke out in their native land of Rakhine State — with humanitarian agencies making substantial progress in health care, nutrition, water and sanitation, protection and other basic services. More than a million of them, and about 745,000 of them since August 25, 2017, who live in camps in Cox’s Bazar started fleeing to Bangladesh in phases beginning in the late 1970s. The facilities that they have been afforded, however, might not be adequate but have at least been enough to provide them with survival. Yet there have been some shortcomings on a few fronts and their education has been one among them. By June 2019, as a UNICEF report, ‘Beyond Survival: Rohingya Refugee Children in Bangladesh’ launched marking two years of their latest arrival since August 2017, says, 192,000 Rohingya children aged 4–14 have been provided with non-formal education after having been enrolled in 2,167 learning centres. But the latest assessments show that 640 more learning centres are needed to accommodate 61,400 children aged 3–14. The report, which says that there are 683,000 children among the 1.2 million Rohingyas living in Cox’s Bazar, also talks about a worrying fact — 97 per cent of the children aged 15–18 are still not attending any type of educational facility.
This has become a major concern among the parents as the deprivation of education could expose them to a greater risk of exploitation and abuse. The UN children’s agency says that mere survival is not enough for them and it is in this context the agency in the report put out a call for urgent investment in education and skills development opportunities in and around the camps in Cox’s Bazar where the majority of the Rohingyas live in. It is critical that the Rohingya children are provided with quality learning and skills development that they need to guarantee their long-run future. UNICEF and other agencies, therefore, call on the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh to allow the use of curriculums, learning and training manuals and assessment methods to provide the Rohingya children with more structured learning. And this should be done in the first language of the Rohingyas, by way of recognised education and qualification, as their right so that when they get back to their origin in Myanmar, they do not find it hard to start their education afresh. If they cannot be educated, properly and adequately, and cannot earn the skills and have training, they would not only lose a critical period of their lives but also find themselves a lost generation. Education could also stop them from falling prey to trafficking, exploitation and other forms of abuse.
Bangladesh authorities and the international community, including the United Nation which is the forum of world leaders, in such a situation, must sit together and find ways out to attend to this problem. The Rohingya children, even in shelters in Bangladesh, are expected to grow up as a good community and they need education for that. All, therefore, must arrange for a proper, recognised education of the Rohingya children.
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