In Bangladesh, due to a prolonged state of national lockdown, children have been unable to attend school for the last 18 months. We are so happy to let you know that on Sunday 12th September, the community schools we support in Cox’s Bazar and the Doharazi enclaves finally opened their doors and welcomed children back into the classrooms.
Ten days later on Wednesday 22nd September, the Learning Centres we support in Kutupalong refugee camp welcomed back over 2000 Rohingya refugee students after being given the go ahead to open by the government. Read on to see the reaction from the students and how we have been making the schools safe for the children to return.
Watch the video, made by our digital team at Mukti Cox's Bazar, and see the reactions of students, teachers and parents on the first day back.
The teachers and staff have worked hard to make sure that children can return to school safely. They have thoroughly disinfected the schools and stocked up on reusable face masks.
All the children at the community schools in the Doharazi enclaves have been given brand-new schoolbags and members of the School Management Committee came to help give them out.
After receiving his new bag, student Belal said “I am very happy. On the day the school opened, I received all the learning materials, including new notebooks, pencils, sharpeners and erasers. Today I got a new bag. I am very happy the school is open again and we are getting new things! My old bag from the school was torn but after telling the teacher, I was given a new one!”
In further good news, we are thrilled that in Kutupalong refugee camp, on the Myanmar border, the 75 Learning Centres we support for Rohingya refugee children were also given permission to reopen ten days after the community schools. The team were eagerly awaiting for this news and have been busy preparing for classes to start.
They have been recruiting new teachers and introduced a wide variety of training sessions to get all teachers back up to speed. They have been talking to students to determine any gaps in their learning and a structural engineer has assessed the damage to the centres in the camp affected by the devastating flooding earlier this summer.
But with only two days' notice from the government, it was all hands on deck to get the schools ready to reopen on Wednesday 22nd September. Vaskar from the Mukti Cox’s Bazar team, our partner in Bangladesh, told us before opening: “The plan is that even if we have to work through the night, we will. But the schools will reopen on Wednesday”.
Emergency meetings were held and teachers worked around the clock to fill the classrooms with colourful welcome banners and artwork. The students and teachers were thrilled to return to school, even coming down the day before to watch the preparations!
The children were met with balloons, bunting and banners, together with gifts of colourful fresh flowers and chocolates.
6,895 children are now back attending classes, but due to ongoing Covid restrictions only those students studying Level 2 (2,014 students) are having lessons in the classrooms. Level 1 students are continuing to learn through home based lessons and hope to return to the classroom soon.
Having experienced little but statelessness and persecution in their young lives, also dealing with their classrooms being shut down for so long has been a huge disappointment for the children we work with. Giving them a vibrant and joyful welcome back is all part of celebrating their return, but also a chance to show them just how valued they are.
Find out how we have been supporting the children to learn at home through lockdown.
CHILDREN ON THE EDGE SCHOOLS IN BANGLADESH