Narul is seven years old and lives in the Doharazi Rohingya Enclaves in Bangladesh. When he was a toddler, whilst his mother was working outside he tripped onto a red-hot stove, badly burning his foot and his hand. To this day he cannot walk properly and one of his fingers is badly damaged. When he was four, his father left the family with no income so his mother had to do manual labour each day just to feed Narul, but could not send him to school.
Raiyan is 10 years old and a student in a school supported by Children on the Edge in the Rohingya Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh. He has learnt a lot since starting school and is now working at level 2. He concentrates hard in his lessons and is naturally very creative. When his teacher tells a story or describes something that has happened to the class, Raiyan immediately starts imagining it.
We talk to four teachers working in Kutupalong refugee camp about how they tackle three of the hardest teaching challenges. Meet Tajina, Toslina, Panua Dey and Sanjil.
Through both printed and digital child- led publications, Children on the Edge are working to ensure Rohingya refugee children have a voice.
“Nobody knows about us” has been a frequent remark coming from discussions with many of the 7,500 children we support in the Kutupalong camp, Bangladesh.
On the 20th June each year, the world commemorates the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees. Around the world more than 50 million people have fled their homes, and over half of these are children.
The refugee children we work with in Lebanon, Bangladesh and Myanmar all show great strength, courage and resilience every day, surviving in some of the toughest places around the world. On World Refugee Day 2019, we wanted to take the time to share some of their thoughts and experiences.
After gaining over eight years experience in providing education for Rohingya children in mixed-population slum areas and fully-Rohingya refugee communities, we have established 10 classrooms for a new and growing group of vulnerable Rohingya children, living in ‘enclave communities’ inland from the Myanmar-Bangladesh border.
Over 18 months since the start of the Rohingya refugee crisis, despite the wealth of agencies investing in education for children in Kutupalong, only about 45% of refugee children currently have access to education in the camps.
Navigating the multiple layers of bureaucracy and negotiating building space in the densely populated camp has made provision a huge challenge, and as the crisis has become protracted, the promised formal curriculum for refugee children was postponed by the government for over a year.
Despite these obstacles, Children on the Edge have successfully established 75 Learning Centres which have all been running five days a week since June 2018, providing education for 7,500 children.
150 Bangladesh and Rohingya teachers are fully trained and running classes each day. They have been trained on communication, child rights, health, hygiene, first aid, identifying trauma, classroom management and how to make learning engaging.
After a double trip to our projects in Bangladesh and India this month, our International Director - Rachel Bentley shares five highlights that reflect some great progress for the children we work with.
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.
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, children often need to work to support their families. Cox’s Bazar is one of six districts with the highest incidence of child labour across the country (9.4% compared to the national average of 6%) and even if children could survive without working, in the slum areas where we operate, there are no government schools functioning.
ACAPS report that the education dropout rate here is 45% for boys and 30% for girls, largely because of low family income. It is one of the lowest performing districts with regards to education access, retention and achievement and UN figures state that currently, only 66.2 % of children in Bangladesh complete their primary education. 88% of female headed households have withdrawn children from school, citing rising food prices and the need for additional household labour.
A full third of the children living in these communities come from Rohingya families who have fled previous waves of violence. While they have attempted to blend in, a study by migration researchers ‘xchange’ in July 2018 stated that 85% of local people believed that Rohingya children should not go to Bangladeshi schools. The reality is that these refugees would not have any other access to education.
Doharazi Rohingya Enclaves
Since the early 1990s these communities have served as a safe haven for Rohingya migrants fleeing abuse in Rakhine State. Falling outside of the scrutiny of the border police, refugees in these areas have typically sought to live below the radar, and local landowners have happily received the cheap labour they offer.
Over time their numbers have swelled, with many new arrivals coming in the wake of the violence of 2016 and 2017. 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.