Rohingya children take part in a drawing session in a school near the Thangkhali camp, in Coxsbazar, Bangladesh 12 October 2017. EPA-EFE FILE/ABIR ABDULLAH
Bangkok, December 3 (efe-epa).- The Bangladesh government is blocking aid groups from providing Rohingya refugee children with accredited or formal education and banning the children from attending schools outside the camps, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.
In its report “'Are We Not Human?': Denial of Education for Rohingya Refugee Children in Bangladesh,” launched in Bangkok, HRW said there is no secondary-level education and groups are barred from teaching Bengali language and using the Bangladesh curriculum.
The children have no opportunity to enroll in or continue their education at public or private schools outside the camp, it said, and called on the government of Bangladesh to lift the restrictions it said deprive 400,000 refugee children of their right to education.
“Bangladesh has made it clear that it doesn’t want the Rohingya to remain indefinitely, but depriving children of education just compounds the harm to the children and won’t resolve the refugees’ plight any faster,” said Bill Van Esveld, associate children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch.
The country opened its doors to around 740,000 ethnic Muslim Rohingya refugees who fled a Myanmar military crackdown in August 2017, but has prohibited aid groups from using the Bangladesh curriculum in the refugee camps.
Myanmar has also refused the use of its curriculum, so the United Nations’ children’s agency developed an informal program from scratch, HRW said, adding that Dhaka has taken a year to approve the first two levels, equivalent to preschool and the beginning of primary school only.
The informal nature of the program means children will not be able to take national exams or continue education through secondary school. Rohingya refugees interviewed said the lack of quality education has led to the growth of Islamic religious schools, but they provide only basic religious instruction, HRW said.
“Children deprived of education are at increased risk of child labor and child marriage, of being trapped in poverty, and of being unable to fully participate in their societies,” HRW said, adding that “refugee children who receive an education are less likely to fall under the influence of criminals or armed groups, and are able to contribute to the welfare of their host communities.”
HRW called on the government of Myanmar to approve the use of its curriculum and Bangladesh’s government allow aid groups to provide formal education in the camps.
“Depriving an entire generation of children of education is in no one’s interest, and the international community needs to act and demand that Bangladesh and Myanmar change course,” Van Esveld said.