GENEVA, 3 May 2019 – This week, UNICEF inaugurated the 2,000th learning center in the Rohingya refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar of Bangladesh. More than 180,000 children are now learning in the 2,000 UNICEF-supported learning centres, taught by 4,000 teachers who have been trained by UNICEF partners. These children are aged between 4 to 14 years.
Following the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children who were forced to flee for their lives from Myanmar to Bangladesh in August 2017, UNICEF’s initial focus was to scale up access to education and to provide safe learning environments.
Today, UNICEF is focusing on ensuring quality education for Rohingya children.
First, the children of the UNICEF-supported learning centers are now enrolled based on their competency level, whereas previously, they were placed in learning centres according to their age.
Second, in January 2019, UNICEF rolled out a new structured learning programme, known as the Learning Competency Framework and Approach (LCFA).
This Learning Competency Framework and Approach defines learning competencies (along with the approach to achieve them) that are comparable to those that children would achieve through a formal school curriculum. The learning framework covers the following subjects: English and Burmese language, mathematics, life skills and science across levels 1 to 5.
Education of Rohingya children is crucial. The results of a survey completed in December 2018 of 180,000 Rohingya children ages 4 to 14 showed the extent of the need for education. The results indicated that the majority of Rohingya children did not have regular access to education in Myanmar. Thus, they were in need of elementary or basic level education.
More than 90 per cent were shown to have learning competencies at the pre-primary level to grades 1 and 2. Just 4 per cent were at grade levels 3 to 5, and 3 per cent at grades 6 to 8.
There is an urgent need to provide opportunities for adolescents as only 7 per cent of 15 to 18 years old are accessing education.
We are now targeting 45,000 adolescents aged 15 to 18 with foundational skills in literacy and numeracy, and relevant vocational skills.
There will also be a much stronger focus on support for the local host community in Cox’s Bazar, one of the poorest districts in Bangladesh. UNICEF has initiated education and alternative learning opportunities for Bangladeshi adolescents who dropped out of school and came from disadvantaged, ultra-poor families.
There is still a lot of work. One third of the 416,000 school-age Rohingya children (3 to 18 years-old) are still not accessing basic education. A generation of Rohingya children and young people cannot be left without the education and skills needed to build a life for themselves. If they become self-sustaining, their communities will also become self-sustaining and flourish.
UNICEF Bangladesh is appealing for US $152 million in 2019 to provide 685,000 Rohingya refugees and host community residents with critical support. As of February, we are 46 per cent funded against our appeal. The overall funding gap is US $ 82 million, including US $28.5 million for education.