Slum dwelling Bangladeshi and Rohingya children are cut off from education and the chance to enjoy their childhoods
The magnitude, longevity and escalation of the Rohingya refugee crisis has placed an enormous burden on host communities in Bangladesh. With the market for casual labour saturated by new arrivals, compensation for a day’s work in many border areas has plummeted to below 70 pence a day. Demand for commodities has also spiked, pushing up prices for basic provisions.
Most of those living near border prior to this crisis were already teetering on the edge of subsistence poverty, and poorly equipped to host one of the largest migrations in modern human history.
As a consequence, local communities are suffering and many children are forced to abandon their education. Many families cannot afford the associated costs of school or need their children to work in order to supplement household incomes.
With regards to education access, retention and achievement, Cox’s Bazar is among the lowest performing districts in Bangladesh. UN figures state that currently, only 66.2 % of children in Bangladesh complete their primary education and 88% of female headed households have withdrawn children from school, citing rising food prices and the need for additional household labour.
Cox’s Bazar tourist beach is an area of outstanding natural beauty, yet it is ravaged by extreme poverty. As a result, rather than learning or playing, Bangladeshi children need to work to support their families.
In the slum areas where we operate, there are no government schools functioning, and if there were, most children would still need to forfeit the pursuit of education in order to contribute to their family’s survival.
Doharazi Rohingya Enclaves
Faced with harassment, lack of opportunities, and the threat of deportation, over the years many Rohingya have moved away from the heavily-monitored border area to ‘enclave communities’ further inland. However, being unregistered and stateless, these Rohingya enjoy none of the services available to their counterparts in the refugee camps and children are entirely cut off from education and support.
Both groups of children are in danger of exploitation, trafficking and growing up without any education or chance to enjoy the opportunities that should be inherent in childhood.
What we are doing to help
Flexible education and support for 1,400 children in Cox's Bazar and Doharazi Enclave Communities
Together with our partner Mukti, we are delivering a high quality curriculum to 1,400 slum dwelling children through 18 classrooms within Cox’s Bazar slums and ten classrooms in the Doharazi Rohingya enclaves. Classes are at flexible times to increase access, and teachers are trained from within the community.
Children on the Edge does not support child labour, but recognise that children in extreme situations of poverty often have no option but to contribute to household income. Our programme has developed a flexible model to meet the educational needs of these children, whilst working closely with their families to foster greater understanding of the importance of education.
Each Learning Centre has one teacher who instructs two classes (morning and afternoon) of 25 students each. Classes follow the government-approved curriculum, equipping them for a future transition to mainstream school. Classes cover literacy, writing, maths and science. The standard curriculum is augmented with a strong focus on creative expression and play, with a day each week assigned entirely for games, gardening, art, dance and sports.
We provide students with the opportunity to wash and receive a school uniform and book bag, giving them a sense of pride and belonging. They receive a nutritious snack each day and regular health supplements.
Children express their views and the views of their peers through Child Councils who shape the project, influence their communities, create a quarterly student newsletter and run their own activities.
Safiya (left) is studying Grade 3 at one of the Centres. She's also a member of the Child Council, and in one of their recent newsletters she wrote an article about her feelings about child marriage.
She says, “If I leave the school my grandmother will marry me off, which I don’t like at my early age. I have decided to advocate against early marriage in my slum. If my neighbours don’t hear me I will bring my teacher to explain it to them, early marriage is a risk for health and life".
News and Features
Features and research
'Child Labour in Bangladesh' - International Labour Organisation
'Child Labour in Bangladesh' (2017) - Dhaka Courier
'Child Marriage around the world:Bangladesh' - Girls Not Brides
'School enrolment high, but drop outs even higher' (2017) - Dhaka Tribune
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