After being denied access to education for nearly two and a half years, Rohingya refugee children living in Bangladesh will now be able to go to school.
The Bangladesh government announced the decision to lift restrictions on education for Rohingya children living in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar on Tuesday, the Guardian reported. The decision was praised by human rights groups and activists alike, who have continually called on the government to overturn its ban.
“We don’t want a lost generation of Rohingya,” Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said. “We want them to have education. They will follow Myanmar curricula.”
Following the announcement, the United Nations released a statement calling the move a step in the right direction, adding that this decision is a clear sign that Bangladesh is committed to equipping refugee children with the necessary skills they need in order to thrive.
Prior to this decision, more than 400,000 Rohingya refugee children were being denied access to education after fleeing genocide and religious persecution in Myanmar.
The Rohingya people, Myanmar’s persecuted Muslim minority, have been escaping violence and genocidal acts inflicted by the country’s military since 2017. Over 740,000 Rohingya have fled their homes and another 100,000 have been murdered.
The violence began as part of a military response to an insurgent attack by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in 2016. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have since sought asylum in Bangladesh.
The education sector in Cox’s Bazar will launch a pilot program in April that aims to educate nearly 10,000 children in grades six to nine using Myanmar’s education curriculum. If successful, the same curriculum will gradually be implemented to teach refugee children in other grades, as well.
“The benefits of educating children cannot be underestimated, with the positive effects rippling through their communities and broader society,” Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner Saad Hammadi said in a press release. “They can speak up for themselves, claim their rights, and lift themselves and others out of a difficult situation.”
In response to the restriction, Human Rights Watch had issued a report entitled “Are We Not Human?: Denial of Education for Rohingya Refugee Children in Bangladesh,” calling attention to Bangladesh’s violation of the 2018 Global Compact on Refugees and applying pressure on the government.
“The costs of denying children education can be severe, including leaving them vulnerable to poverty and exploitation. We welcome this significant breakthrough and look forward to the government delivering on its commitments,” Hammadi said.