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Rohingya student faces temporary expulsion by a Cox's Bazar University

  • Published at 02:09 am September 12th, 2019
WEB_Rahima Akter Khushi
File photo of Rahima Akter Khushi Collected

Rahima, now 20, was born in the Kutupalong refugee camp after her family fled Myanmar in 1992

A  private university in Cox's Bazar recently suspended a female student after it found that the girl belongs to ethnic Rohingya community.

The student, Rahima Akhter alias Rahi Khushi, an ethnic minority Rohingya national sheltered in the Kutupalong refugee camp, is a LLB (Hons) student of Cox’s Bazar International University (CBIU).

The suspension of the girl, who was a first year student at the university, drew flak from netizens on social media, where some spoke in her favour, while others registered their reservation over the student. 

The suspension move against Rahima came in the first week of September, 2019, following media reports on the Rohingya girl being enrolled in the general education courses. Formal education of Rohingya people in Bangladeshi institutions is restricted.

CBIU Registrar Kutub Uddin told Dhaka Tribune that they received specific allegations on the student's nationality and citizenship from media reports.

Meanwhile, a three-member probe committee was formed to investigate the allegations and the academic council of the university suspended Rahima from all academic activities until the probe report is submitted, said the CBIU registrar.

“Next course of action will follow as per the recommendation of the probe committee,” he said.

Who is the girl?

Rahima, now 20, was born in the Kutupalong refugee camp after her family fled Myanmar in 1992 following violent events including human rights abuse in the restive Rakhine State of Myanmar.

Despite the fact that formal education is restricted in Bangladesh for Rohingya people; she secured admission into the university apparently by producing a forged birth registration card and hiding her real identity.

Before her enrolment in CBIU, Rahima passed her Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exam from Baitush Sharif Jabbaria Academy and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exam from Cox’s Bazar Government Women’s College in Cox's Bazar.

Rahima served as a executive member at Marquee Foundation, financial secretary at Prothom Alo Bondushova, Chief Executive Officer at Divas – a female empowerment organisation, director and founder of Women Learning Centre and the first female assistant computer trainer at the Poura Preparatory ICT Computer Training Centre, according to a report by rohingyapost.com.

The university

The Cox’s Bazar International University (CBIU), the only private university in the district, was founded in 2013 with Awami League's former district general secretary Salauddin Ahmed as its chairman.

The annual report-2017 by the University Grants Commission (UGC) says the university offers 16 courses from six departments under four faculties in a rented campus.

There were 1176 students at the university out of total 1270 seats in 2017.

Expulsion of Rohingya pupils from formal schools

Earlier this year, educational institutions across Bangladesh expelled many Rohingya refugee children from schools following order from the government.

Usually, Rohingya students receive non-formal primary education in schools in refugee camps .

There are allegations that many Rohingya families adopt unfair means by paying bribes to a section of officials for fake birth certificates in order to obtain formal education for their children.

According to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) statement in April this year, the HRW interviewed 13 Rohingya refugee students, including 4 girls, who were expelled from six secondary schools on January 23 and 28, and February 14, when school administrators went to each classroom and read out a government-issued notice ordering their expulsion.

Bangladesh took in 750,000 Rohingya people expelled from Myanmar in a military-led crackdown. Two years on, facing simmering conflict between natives and the recent arrivals, and after failed attempts to persuade some refugees to return, the host country is running out of patience for the Rohingyas.