Rohingya 'lost generation' fight for right to education in Bangladesh camps

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on March 18, 2019 - Duration: 02:34s

Rohingya 'lost generation' fight for right to education in Bangladesh camps

Rohingya children in Bangladeshi camps are struggling to study, especially after the government issued letters to local schools banning their attendance.

But some are still finding ways to get their education.

Grace Lee reports.


Rohingya 'lost generation' fight for right to education in Bangladesh camps

17 year-old Tawharn has a dream.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) TAWHARN, SAYING: "I want to be a doctor because if I become a doctor, I can help our Rohingya community." But here in Bangladesh he's not allowed to attend any local schools because he's a Rohingya refugee.

Tawharn is one of 730,000 Rohingya muslims that fled Myanmar in 2017 escaping a brutal government crackdown.

Now he lives at a cramped refugee camp in Cox's Bazar where, according to UNICEF, centres have been forbidden by the government from teaching the Bangladeshi curriculum.

In many countries governments allow refugees to study in local schools, but Bangladesh hasn't recognized the vast majority of the Rohingya as refugees which means their legal status is murky.

Tawharn hasn't let that stop him though - he's been going to classes taught by former Rohingya teachers in a tent which has been operating without permission.

(SOUNDBITE) (Rohingya) SCHOOL PRINCIPAL, SALA UDDIN, SAYING: "We need to provide college education for them.

More than 5,000 students have passed exam for higher education, but they can't continue their study, that is why we decided to set up high school level classes." Others had been quietly attending Bangladeshi schools, which had for years been admitting some of the Rohingya.

But in January, the Rohingya students were told to leave after Bangladeshi authorities issued an order to headmasters.

(SOUNDBITE) (Rohingya) 14-YEAR-OLD EXPELLED ROHINGYA STUDENT, MOHAMMED ISMALI, SAYING: "When I got kicked out from the school, I cried loudly.

When I came home with the news, my parents were also very upset." UNICEF says there will be a "lost generation" of children, but Bangladesh's government says the country can't afford to integrate them.

(SOUNDBITE) (Bengali) LEDA HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL, JAMAL UDDIN, SAYING: "The government is concerned that they may get involved in crimes, and conflict, that is why we have been asked to keep an eye on them.

If they have access to education, it could be worse." Even the makeshift school is facing big problems. Donations from students' families and NGOs had kept it running, but now its principal is struggling to pay the teachers.

Despite all this, Tawharn still has hope.

He's already a teacher himself and tutors four boys in English in the evenings.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) TAWHARN, SAYING: "I think if I teach them it can also help promote their education and they can teach another students, another generation."

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