Refugee children lacked education during the COVID-19 pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many children in the United States were struggling with remote learning and worried emotionally about the loss of social interactions. Yet a significant number of children in the world did not have access to the Internet or any education during the pandemic.

Children are our future. Although about 33 million children all over the world have moved to work and most of them are out of school. Refugee children are a case in point. More than 92% of refugee children living in developing countries. The lack of education during COVID-19 has the potential to be an even more devastating pandemic.

Rohingya children did not receive education during the pandemic

In August 2017, over 742,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar. More than 800,0000 Rohingya refugees now live in Cox’s Bazar in the world’s largest and most populous refugee camp, and more than half are children and teenagers. Prior to the epidemic, children in Rohingya refugee camps were not allowed to receive education in local schools, barring them from opportunities to unite with the local community in Bangladesh. As a result of the lockdown due to the pandemic, those 315,000 Rohingya children and young people have lost education in camps more than 6,000 learning institutions, which closed in mid -March 2020. In January 2020, the Bangladeshi government promised to give Rohingya children access education and skills training, but little is known about the good points of promise because the pandemic has hindered any progress.

“They are abandoned, without proper nutrition and health care, without access to any education, and trapped in a limbo with an uncertain future, from which no one can be seen to escape. It’s time to give kids a fair chance at life. ”

For decades, Rohingya parents in Myanmar’s Rakhine state have seen their children become killed, damaged, violated, abducted, attacked in schools and hospitals, and deprived of a chance at a decent life. The situation was so bad for this and other refugee children around the world that in 1999, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1261 to protect children in regions with conflict for the first time. But Rohingyas in Bangladesh continue to live in danger. Lack of access to education is likely to result in parents marrying their children at a young age or losing them. human trafficking. This means that generations of children do not realize their potential.

Considering these issues, the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner of Bangladesh agreed “It really helps” to educate the children in the camp. Although similar speaking from policy makers, a government directive in 2019 Internet access was banned in the camp, so during the pandemic, even remote learning was not an option for the children there.

Photo: taken at a Fatima Zahra learning center in October 2019 (before the lockdown). It shows two brothers – getting ready to go home after class. Location: Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar.

Violence against children affected not only the camp refugees but also the social architecture of the host community. Refugee children in Bangladesh are a big part of the future of the country’s political economy and national security. Many feared that inequalities and violence in the camps had already contributed improved violence by hostages surrounding the camps.

How to correct the mistake against refugee children: Three steps

Unfortunately, the plight of Rohingya children in Bangladesh is similar to that of most refugee children in the world. They are abandoned, lacking proper nutrition and health care, lack access to any education, and caught in the limbo of an uncertain future that comes from unseen flight. It’s time to give kids a fair chance at life through three steps.

First, children must have access to quality education that is in both the children’s language and the language of the host country.

The language of instruction determines the effectiveness of education. It also determines how children know their future (in the host country) and how they are accepted as people from another country (their country of birth). Rohingya children were allowed some form of Rohingya language education before the pandemic in informal learning institutions in the camps, but the host community looked at Rohingya culture and language so the children did not know about their homeland.

“We often forget that refugee children are like our children – and that they are in our space because they have no destination. Governments, including the newly elected US government, the private sector, and donors can improve their game and play an important role in supporting the future of refugee children. ”

Bangladeshi children should be given access to the curriculum in public schools in the country. It will create a cultural bridge between refugees and host children in the community. the The Bangladeshi government was very clear from the start that they did not want to do this. While learning a first language has many benefits, it can also help facilitate learning another language (such as Bangla and English) if children live in Bangladesh. Children who speak the Rohingya language can reinforce the language and reading they know to acquire another language.

Second, children in the camp need mental health support. Many children and adults in the camp were present suffering from severe grief and anxiety. These children need teachers who are trained to support the skills of children who have experienced severe trauma, anxiety, and depression, and who continue to live with constant uncertainty. Non -governmental organizations (NGOs) in the camps have invested in supporting children’s education – help from local and national government will mean they can measure their efforts to train teachers to expect high quality education of children.

Finally, the people in the camp needed access to high-speed Internet. The first two steps necessary to improve education can only be done if refugee children have access to the outside world.

Internet use is essential for children to access the same education and mental health support. NGOs and companies can set up Wifi hotspots throughout the camp, as has already been done. in the past in other camps. If that happens, children can access remote learning programs. Parents also need access to relevant technologies (such as smartphones and the Internet) so that they can explore their children’s learning, which is natural for most parents.

As leading post-colonial scholar Homi Bhabha stated, “the situation of refugees makes the most stringent and severe demands on the national community or the“ world community ”to recognize the international right. of hospitality which is central to human very existence… for a ‘The good life is lived with others.’ ”We often forget that refugee children are like our children – and they are in our space because they have no destination.Government (including the newly elected U.S. government), the private sector, and donors can improve their game and play an important role in supporting the future of refugee children.

Closing the education gap for refugee children will move us one step closer to building a strong and diverse leadership for the world.

Header image: taken from a focused group discussion of Rohingya children and young people about their wants and desire to learn as part of a research study at the South Asia Institute at Harvard University . The photo shows a child solving some basic math problems to show what he knows at his school in Myanmar. Location: Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar.

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