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14 December, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Rohingya children stay out of school

Al Jazeera, Doha

The Rohingya are facing a "lost generation" as children both in Myanmar and in the refugee camps of Bangladesh struggle to get an education, a new report has warned. The Rohingya youth who remain in Myanmar's Rakhine State have faced serious restrictions on access to schooling since the outbreak of violence there in 2012, with children often kept in separate facilities and unable to attend mainstream schools, the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) said on Thursday. Older students are unable to attend university.

In Bangladesh, where more than 700,000 Rohingya now live in sprawling refugee camps after fleeing a brutal Myanmar army crackdown last year, authorities have banned formal education and even the construction of any structure that might seem like a permanent school building.

As a result, most young people only have the option of attending informal learning centres run by civil society groups.

"Now, more than ever, we need educated Rohingya who can act as leaders for the community, but as long as education remains severely restricted this will be impossible," Tun Khin, president of BROUK, said in a statement.

"We are facing the prospect of a lost generation."

'Learning centres'

The mostly Muslim Rohingya are one of the world's most persecuted minorities, attacked and driven out of Rakhine in what United Nations investigators have said remains an "ongoing genocide".

An international law firm hired by the US State Department said earlier this month it had found evidence of genocide in the August 2017 military crackdown that drove the Rohingya into Bangladesh and urged a criminal investigation into the atrocities.

"Right now, Rohingya are not getting any kind of formalised education in the camps," John Quinley, a human rights specialist with Fortify Rights in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar, where the refugee camps are located, told Al Jazeera. "This is a big concern for future generations of Rohingya. We are talking about lots of children who are unable to access education."

Education in the 27 camps around Cox's Bazar is provided by international and local NGOs as well as community-based organisations, and quality depends on who is running the centre.

The report, titled The Right to Education Denied for Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh, noted that what classrooms existed were often overcrowded and poorly resourced. Many of the learning centres were located in refugees' own shelters, it said.

Years of discrimination in Rakhine itself, "an apartheid state" according to Fortify Rights' Quinley, had made the recruitment of teachers a serious challenge.

BROUK said of the teachers who arrived initially in August last year, only 21 percent had education beyond the secondary level while the segregation in Rakhine meant that Rohingya teachers were not allowed to travel and were therefore unable to access government-run teacher training programmes.

'Inescapable' challenges

UNICEF, which has been heavily involved in the provision of education in the camps, admitted in an August report that there were "inescapable" challenges in addressing the issue.

"Without an agreed and approved curriculum, children were taught with a variety of materials," the UN agency for children said. "So enthusiastic were the children to learn that classrooms were often overcrowded."

BROUK said that while aid groups had made "heroic efforts" to respond to the crisis, there had been little long-term planning in relation to education, even as prioritising primary over secondary education had created a shortage of opportunities for teenagers.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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