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HRW: Bangladesh should lift restrictions on education for Rohingya children

  • Published at 01:42 am December 4th, 2019
Rohingya children en route to their schools in Cox’s Bazar
File photo: Rohingya children en route to their schools in Cox’s Bazar Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

RRRC says every Rohingya child is provided with informal education, and no one will be allowed out of camps for security reasons

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the Bangladesh government of blocking aid groups from providing any meaningful education to Rohingya children in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, and banning the children from attending schools outside the camps.

In an 81-page report released yesterday, the New York-based rights body said the government should urgently lift the restrictions that “unlawfully” deprived almost 400,000 Rohingya refugee children of their right to education.

“The unlawful restrictions on schooling risk creating a lost generation,” the report said.

In response, the government claimed that all Rohingya children are being provided with informal education, and ruled out any possibility of allowing the refugee children to have an education outside of the camps due to security reasons.

The HRW report, titled “‘Are We Not Human?’: Denial of Education for Rohingya Refugee Children in Bangladesh,” documents how Bangladesh prohibits aid groups in the camps in the Cox’s Bazar district from providing Rohingya children with accredited or formal education.

There is no secondary-level education, and groups are barred from teaching the Bangla language and using the Bangladeshi curriculum. Myanmar children have no opportunity to enroll in or continue their education at private or public schools outside the camps.

“Bangladesh has made it clear that it doesn’t want the Rohingyas to remain indefinitely, but depriving children of education just compounds the harm to the children and won’t resolve the refugees’ plight any faster,” said Bill Van Esveld, associate children’s rights director at HRW. 

“The government of Bangladesh saved countless lives by opening its borders and providing refuge to the Rohingyas, but it needs to end its misguided policy of blocking education for Rohingya children,” he added.

The HRW interviewed 163 Rohingya children, parents and teachers, as well as government officials and staff at humanitarian groups and United Nations agencies. 

When contacted, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mahbub Alam Talukder, who is based in Cox’s Bazar, told Dhaka Tribune: “We cannot stop anybody from saying anything, can we? The fact is that every Rohingya child is being provided with informal education. All of them are covered.

“With assistance from the aid-providing organizations, the children are being taught different subjects, including English, mathematics, and science, in accordance with the Myanmar curriculum. The teachers are recruited from within the displaced Rohingyas living in camps as well as the local people outside the camps,” he added.

Asked if the Rohingya children will be allowed to get education outside, Mahbub, the top government official on the ground dealing with the Rohingya crisis, said: “Why should we? It is out of question due to security reasons.”