A BREAKTHROUGH FOR ROHINGYA REFUGEE CHILDREN living in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps in Bangladesh will this month see the first 10,000 children enrolled to receive education based on the national curriculum of their home country, Myanmar. 

A landmark decision by the Government of Bangladesh in January 2020 paved the way for the introduction of the Myanmar Curriculum Pilot (MCP) to expand access to education for Rohingya refugee children and adolescents, whose families fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in August 2017.

The MCP was then launched by UNICEF and partners in November 2021, and is a critical step towards ensuring the fundamental right to education for Rohingya refugee children. It will help prepare the children for their return to Myanmar.

“There is a tremendous demand for education among Rohingya refugee children, and UNICEF and partners are on the ground in the camps, responding to that demand”, said Mr. Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh.

There are over 400,000 school-aged Rohingya children in the Bangladesh refugee camps. With approximately 300,000 of these children attending learning centres, UNICEF and partners are running a mammoth education operation in what is the largest refugee settlement in the world. There are 3,400 learning centres across multiple camps, of which 2,800 are supported by UNICEF.

To date, most of the children have been learning through the so-called Learning Competency Framework Approach (LCFA), which covers levels one to four and caters primarily to children aged four to 14. The LCFA was created as an emergency measure for Rohingya refugee children and is a largely informal learning system. The curriculum now being piloted is based on the Myanmar national curriculum, and it provides Rohingya refugee children with formal and standardised education. In addition, the Myanmar Curriculum fills a critical secondary education gap: It provides schooling for older children who have largely lacked access to education.

The Myanmar Curriculum Pilot initially targets 10,000 children in grades six to nine. In normal circumstances, grades six to nine cater to children aged 11-14. However, many Rohingya refugee children have fallen behind in their education, and so most children enrolled in grades six to nine are aged 14-16. UNICEF aims to scale up in phases so that by 2023, all school-aged children are taught through the Myanmar curriculum.

Despite much progress, approximately 100,000 school-aged Rohingya refugee children are not in school. UNICEF and partners are working to reach out to these children and to remove the barriers that prevent them from going to school. Private and community-based learning facilities that meet the needs of both boys and girls, and which are operated with sufficient oversight, could also play a role in providing educational services.

UNICEF engages with all stakeholders who play a role in the effort to provide Rohingya refugee children with equitable and inclusive access to standardised education.

“We need to do all we can to give these children hope, to provide them with education, to prepare them for their futures in Myanmar. UNICEF will continue to work with the Rohingya refugee community, the Government of Bangladesh and partners until every refugee child is reached with quality education”, said Mr. Yett.

* Source: UNICEF UK