In Rakhine State, out-of-school children restart Learning Together

Learning opportunities for the out-of-school children in northern Rakhine State

Ei Thu Zar
Muhamed Tahayr , Community Service Facilitator, CFSI
19 August 2020

Rakhine State, July 2020 - The Learning Together remedial classes in the northern Rakhine townships of Buthidaung and Maungdaw closed at the end of March due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Parents of these out-of-school children were concerned that their children would stop learning and slip backwards, impacting the children’s ability to enter the formal school system in the upcoming academic year. 

“I was really worried about the classes being closed for long because that has affected my child’s learning progress and eligibility to start school,” shared one concerned parent from Thae Kan Gwa Son Village in Buthidaung Township.

Community and Family Services International (CFSI) delivers one of the components of the Learning Together project particularly “going to school together’, which supports continued access to learning opportunities for the out-of-school children in northern Rakhine State, with support from UNICEF and the Ministry of Education, and funding from the UK Department for International Development. The Learning Together initiative is investing in schools where the diverse communities are learning together to support a safe and inclusive learning environment through reading and playing activities as a foundation of other learning.

COVID-19 awareness-raising sessions run by CFSI for parents, students and communities, revealed the clear desires of parents and children to continue these learning sessions.

Therefore, CFSI started applying their new approach, in accordance with COVID-19 preventive measures and guidelines, with the support and engagement of the local communities and township education offices. At the beginning of May 2020, the organization and 42 community-based support staff resumed the remedial classes, teaching short sessions in small groups.

Ma Nandar Aung, Community Service Facilitator, CFS
Aung Ba La at the remedial class level 1 in Maungdaw Township.

By the beginning of June 2020, around 385 small classes were up and running for 2,085 students, including 1,041 girls. Due to the long absence of classes, some of the out-of-school children had slipped backwards and forgotten what they had previously learnt. In order to encourage students to go back to learning, class facilitators and community-based teacher aides are putting in extra efforts. Steady revision exercises encourage the students with learning challenges to regain the lost ground. Rebuilding the foundations and generating hope among the children and their families fosters a real sense of potential and possibilities, which is like shining a bright light on a dark night.