Friday, June 14, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Educating Rohingya children: Initiatives to maintain cultural roots tied to Myanmar

  • To help them remember their homeland, various programs have been initiated
  • These programs aim to familiarize the children with the country they left behind
  • One significant initiative is providing education based on their own curriculum
Update : 24 May 2024, 10:26 AM

Children in Rohingya camps were asked to draw pictures of their village houses. 

However, instead of drawing complete houses, every child only drew a door. This reflects their current reality—each door symbolizes every room in the camp they now call home. 

All of their drawings reflect their association with their shanty houses in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar. 

They cannot remember their Myanmar village. Even after being shown pictures of Myanmar houses and streets, and told the stories of their ancestors, the children in the Rohingya camps only managed to draw houses that resemble their camp life. They cannot recall their villages in Myanmar.

Their resettlement in Bangladesh, following forced displacement due to violence and arson in Myanmar, has provided them with basic rights in the confines of the camp, though not all amenities are available.

Many of these children, now growing up in the Ukhiya camps, have known only this life. 

To help them remember their homeland and foster a desire to return, various programs have been initiated. These programs aim to familiarize the children with the country they left behind, so that it does not feel entirely foreign if and when they return.

According to a joint fact sheet by the Bangladesh government and the United Nations refugee agency from January, the current population in Rohingya camps is 975,350, with 52% being children. 

Among these children, 21% are aged 5 to 11, and 15% are aged 12 to 17. To ensure these children do not become a burden to the host country, and to nurture their self-confidence and desire to return home, various programs are regularly conducted.

Sources at government and non-governmental development agencies highlight five key reasons for maintaining Myanmar's local atmosphere in the camps. 

This preparation helps them mentally for a return to Myanmar, prevents them from struggling with linguistic differences, ensures they do not fully assimilate into the local culture, and keeps the distinction between the camp and their home country clear in their minds. Programs are designed based on these considerations.

One significant initiative is providing education based on their own curriculum. 

In November 2021, Unicef and its development partners launched the “Myanmar Curriculum Pilot (MCP) Project” to ensure Rohingya children's right to education in their native language. 

Currently, there are 5,891 learning centers in the shelter camps, with approximately 350,000 students enrolled as of 2023. 

Over 250,000 of these children are now part of Myanmar's education system. Although the initial instruction was in Bangla, since July 2022, educational institutions have been following Myanmar's curriculum.

Wishing to remain anonymous, a Rohingya organizer from the Lambashia camp said: "None of us want to stay here. We will return immediately if we can do so with honor. We teach our children our language, dress, and culture. Those running the camp fear we will not want to stay, which is why they support retaining the atmosphere of Myanmar. Various instructions inside the camp are given in our language."

Mizanur Rahman, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC), said: "We are taking various initiatives to immerse camp children in the local environment and culture of Myanmar. The government is providing vocational training, organizing cultural programs, competitions, and life skills training. We have emphasized from the beginning that it is risky to leave such a large youth population idle. Their frustration could become dangerous for our country if not managed properly. Generally, we strive to keep everything in the style of Myanmar."

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