Bringing Rohingya back to school

Two years after the ethnic cleansing

Education is essential when planning for a long-term crisis in the world’s largest refugee camp in Bangladesh

“As we mark the second year of the Rohingya crisis, it is important to go beyond short-term support. If we are not able to offer education to the young generation, it might be lost”

That is the message from education program manager, Petra Weissengruber. According to her, DCA is currently one of the only providers of education for youth:

“From the onset of an emergency response, education helps refugees find structure and a purpose in their lives. But the young Rohingya in Cox’s Bazar are greatly underserved in terms og education,” says Petra Weissengruber.

First time in school

On the 25th of August it is two years since the ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya minority took speed. It is hard to imagine the level of brutality the Rohingya refugees have experienced. But if Petra Weissengruber should highlight one positive outcome of the tragic situation, it is that Rohingya might have access to education for the first time in their lives:

“Access to education for the Rohingya was restricted back in Myanmar. If we manage to reach all kids, adolescent and youth with education, I strongly believe that the community can become more self-reliant and take back control of parts of their lives,” says Petra Weissengruber.

Another problem in the traditional conservative Rohingya community is that women and girls typically drop out from school when getting their first period or getting married. To tackle this culturally based challenge DCA offers education to women through a home-based approach and by teaching them in ‘female only’ centres. This ensures a safe environment. Furthermore, DCA strongly advocates for improving access to education for youth.

School might change society

According to Petra Weissengruber, who is managing the shared education program between DCA and FCA, the increased focus on education for girls and young women could have the potential to change societal structures in a progressive way:

“If you for example teach women how to read, write, calculate and train them in whatever skill is needed, it might actually slowly change society. In a society where women are expected not to work even though families face financial hardship, womens role can slowly change when men start to recognise that they contribute to the family income,” says Petra Weissengruber

Education for girls and young women

Since September 2017 DCA has offered education to 1759 girls and young women.