Learning centres bring smiles for Rohingya children

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COX’S BAZAR, June 1, 2021 (BSS) – When minor Rohingya girl Jouria came to Bangladesh holding the hands of her parents after Myanmar military carried out a crackdown on Rohingyas in Rakhine state in 2017, she did not think that she would get access to education.

Along with many other Rohingya families, her parents and she took refuge at a makeshift at Cox’s Bazar’s Kutupalong refugee camp, leaving everything behind in their home of origin in Myanmar. Like other Rogingya children, nine-year-old Jouria was deprived of education in her homeland as the Myanmar authorities imposed restriction on their formal education.

On their arrival in Cox’s Bazar in 2017, access to education was a daydream for the Rohingya children as they were struggling only to survive escaping the Myanmar military brutality. But an Education Cannot Wait (ECW)-funded programme paved ways to ensure education for them.

Now, the vulnerable children of both Rohingyas and host community are getting access to education at the learning centres set up in Cox’s Bazar.

“We learnt Bangla, Burmese and English alphabets from the learning centres. Now we can read and write (in these languages). We learnt how to take care of ourselves and get cleaned,” Jouria said.

She said: “We enjoy learning as these centres are equipped with educational and sports materials. The facilitators of our learning centres explain everything to us through songs and stories, writing, drawing and games.”

The Rohingya girl said once they feel sick at any learning centre, the facilitators help them reach their homes. “Once any student remains absent at the centre, they inquire about his or her. That’s why we like the environment of the learning centres. If the learning centres have a bigger space with separate toilet facilities for girls, it would be great,” Jouria added.

Asma, another 10-year-old Rohingya girl, said apart from conventional lessons, they have been taking lessons on life-skills from the learning centres.

“We have learnt lessons on how we keep clean, how to take food, when we should go sleep and other life-skills. I enjoy learning at my centre,” she added.

About the education facilities at the learning centres, Asma said her learning centre is very clean, well-decorated with different colours and is equipped with educational materials and playing tools.

All concerned of the centres are very sincere about their students, she said, adding: “We get enough time to play at the learning centres and that’s why I like my centre”.

Seno Ara (34), a mother of three, said: “Our children are being able to cope with mental trauma as they are busy in making toys, drawing and playing at the learning centres.”

She said her children learnt from the learning centre what they should do in any emergency. The Rohingya children are studying well with the facilitators of the learning centres so it is expected that they would do something better in the future, she added.

UNESCO programme officer (education) Shahidul Islam said UNESCO’s support of parenting education and system strengthening indirectly benefits 88,500 children in Cox’s Bazar, and of them, about 50 percent are girls.

He said through parenting education, children benefit by receiving appropriate care from their family, their learning centres and community, including in the areas of mental health and psychosocial support, behavioral and language development, protection from potential risks or dangers, protection from gender-based violence, and living together in peace.

Shahidul said UNESCO’s continued support to and capacity building of education authorities in the Cox’s Bazar supported the continuity and sustainability of free and inclusive access to education for crisis affected children.