Friday, May 24, 2024 | 1445 ذو القعدة 16

World must act to ensure Rohingya children get an education

Education has a proven track record in being the world’s most effective tool for pulling people out of poverty. For the Rohingya, this vital tool has been denied to generations, as they faced wave upon wave of discrimination and genocidal campaigns.
Now, the education situation for Rohingya children in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar is calamitous. According to UNICEF, only about 23 percent of Rohingya children aged four to 14 years have access to any kind of education in Bangladesh, whether formal or nonformal. This means that the vast majority of Rohingya children in Bangladesh are currently not receiving any education at all.
There are several reasons for this. One major obstacle is the lack of resources and infrastructure in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, which makes it difficult to provide education services to all children. This is exacerbated by the sheer size and scale of the Cox’s Bazar camp, which Bangladesh is keen on ensuring does not become a permanent settlement.
Additionally, there are often cultural and language barriers that make it difficult for Rohingya children to access what limited education may be available, with some curriculums provided by well-meaning nongovernmental organizations using Bengali textbooks, which is not the primary language of the Rohingya people and is not the best option for victims of genocide who are trying to preserve their culture, language and traditions.
Over the long term, if the Rohingya are ever expected to rebuild their communities, pull their people out of abject poverty and be less reliant on aid, the international community will need to support educational initiatives for Rohingya children in these refugee camps. Such initiatives should be designed and implemented in close consultation with the Rohingya community itself to ensure that they are culturally appropriate, relevant to the needs of the community and responsive to the challenges facing the Rohingya people. Without access to education, it will be difficult for the Rohingya people to ever improve their economic situation, even if they were suddenly all to return to their homeland across the border in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
And there is no need to have a one-size-fits-all strategy. Such initiatives can take many different forms, including formal education programs, vocational training and community-based initiatives that promote life skills and social inclusion. The important thing is to ensure that all Rohingya children have access to quality education that can help them to build better lives for themselves and their families, irrespective of where they may end up.
There are many reasons why the international community should support education initiatives for the Rohingya. First and foremost, education is a fundamental human right and all people should have access to quality education regardless of their background or circumstances. By supporting education initiatives for the Rohingya people, the international community can help to ensure that this fundamental right is upheld and that the Rohingya people are able to participate fully in society and build better futures for themselves.
Second, education is essential for promoting economic development and reducing poverty. Without access to education, it is difficult for the Rohingya people to gain the skills and knowledge they need to improve their current economic situation and provide for their families. By investing in education initiatives that provide vocational training and other opportunities for skills development, the international community can help to promote economic growth and reduce poverty among the Rohingya people, even if they are trapped in a refugee camp.
Third, education is important for promoting social inclusion and breaking down barriers between different groups. The Rohingya people have long been marginalized and excluded from society in Myanmar and this situation has been exacerbated by the violence and persecution they have faced in recent years. By providing education opportunities that promote social inclusion and tolerance, the international community can help to build bridges between different communities and promote a more peaceful and stable society — even among the different Rohingya groups, which are understandably growing frustrated with their current situation.
Finally, education is essential for promoting long-term peace and stability in the region. We have to hope that the Rohingya will one day soon return to their homeland in Myanmar. An educated Rohingya can help to promote tolerance and respect for diversity, which are essential for building peaceful and stable societies. By investing in education initiatives for the Rohingya people, the international community can help to promote a culture of peace and tolerance in the region as a whole.
Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Eastern Crescent's point of view.
Note: The author is director of special initiatives at the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy in Washington, DC, and the author of “The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Genocide”