United Nations, Aug 17 (IANS) A new report by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) calls for urgent investment in education and skills development opportunities for the Rohingya refugees in southeastern Bangladesh.
“For the Rohingya children and youth now in Bangladesh, mere survival is not enough,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore on Friday, Xinhua reported.
“It is absolutely critical that they are provided with the quality learning and skills development that they need to guarantee their long-term future,” he added.
The report, entitled ‘Beyond Survival’, marks two years since the arrival of around 745,000 Rohingya civilians fleeing violence in Myanmar.
According to the report, by June 2019, the overall education sector had provided non-formal education to 280,000 children aged 4 to 14. UNICEF and its partners have ensured access to learning for 192,000 of those children, enrolled in 2,167 learning centers.
However, this leaves over 25,000 children who are not attending any learning programs, and an additional 640 learning centers are needed. Further, 97 per cent of children aged 15 to 18 years are not attending any type of educational facility.
More formal teaching and learning materials are being progressively rolled out for younger refugee children studying in camp learning centers.
UNICEF and other agencies are calling on the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh to allow the use of national educational resources, such as curricula, learning and training manuals and assessment methods, to help provide more structured learning for Rohingya children.
“Providing learning and training materials is a huge task and can only be realized with the full backing of a range of partners,” said Fore. “But the hopes of a generation of children and adolescents are at stake. We cannot afford to fail them.”
The report said that without adequate opportunities for learning, adolescents can fall prey to traffickers who offer to smuggle desperate young Rohingya out of Bangladesh, and to drug dealers who operate in the area. Women and girls face harassment and abuse especially at nighttime.
UNICEF is supporting the development of youth centers and adolescent clubs in which life skills, psychosocial support, basic literacy and numeracy and vocational skills are provided as part of a comprehensive package. Nearly 70 such facilities were operational by July 2019 but far more are needed.