The first 10,000 Rohingya refugee children living in Bangladesh camps are receiving education based on the national curriculum of their home country Myanmar, Unicef said in a statement on Sunday.
The United Nations children’s agency described it as a “breakthrough” for the refugee kids.
“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 Unicef Representative to Bangladesh Sheldon Yett.
The Myanmar Curriculum Pilot, launched by Unicef and partners in November 2021, is a critical step towards ensuring the fundamental right to education for Rohingya refugee children.
It would help prepare the children for their return to Myanmar, said the statement.
There are over 400,000 school-aged Rohingya children in the Bangladesh refugee camps.
The statement said that with approximately 300,000 of these children attending learning centers, Unicef and partners ran a mammoth education operation in the so-called largest refugee settlement in the world.
There are 3,400 learning centers across multiple camps. Of these, Unicef supports 2,800.
The project was launched by Unicef last November after being approved by the Bangladeshi government in January 2020.
Many Rohingya refugee children have fallen behind in their education. So most kids enrolled in grades six to nine are aged 14-16.
The UN agency aims to scale up in phases so that by 2023, all school-aged children are taught through the Myanmar curriculum.
Some 52 percent of the 926,561 refugees currently residing in these camps in Bangladesh are children, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Unicef indicated that some 300,000 children between the ages of four and 14 have access to educational programs.
Despite the progress, approximately 100,000 school-aged Rohingya refugee children are not in school.
The UN agency and its partners are working to reach out to these children and 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,” the statement said.
“Unicef engages with all stakeholders who play a role in the effort to provide Rohingya refugee children with equitable and inclusive access to standardized education.”
The announcement comes after 25 human rights organizations, including Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW), urged Bangladeshi authorities to reopen Rohingya community schools.
According to the signatories, since last December, some 30 schools run by the Rohingya community have been closed or dismantled in the Cox’s Bazar camps.
The Bangladeshi authorities have, however, denied dismantling the centers.