In a major boost to the education response of the Rohingya refugee crisis, the Education Cannot Wait (ECW) fund is allocating US$12 million to support 88,500 refugee and host community children and adolescents. The fund is being awarded to UNICEF, UNESCO and UNHCR to ensure a common vision for education and continued access to quality learning.
“Education is a long-term investment in any context. Within the Rohingya refugee crisis, education plays an even more vital role. It ensures children’s protection. It is also a lifeline of hope for children and young people living in a very unpredictable situation. ECW is making a major investment in their future,” says James Lynch, UNHCR Regional Representative and Acting Representative in Bangladesh.
The launch was announced from an ECW supported learning centre in the Rohingya refugee camps earlier today, in the presence of 50 children, parents, teachers, government, UN and NGO representatives.
When asked about his learning centre, 8-year-old Rohingya boy Amin said “diley shanti pai – I feel peace in my soul.”
For Amin and many others, time spent at the learning centre is the highlight of their day. Rohingya children attend classes for two hours each day to learn English, Burmese, mathematics and life skills. However, teaching hours will be expanded to four hours per day with the rollout of the new education programme.
“We are dealing with a refugee population which has been denied the right to education for a very long time. Over the past year, we have witnessed incredible changes in the children attending classes in the refugee camps. Children who were quiet and reserved have grown in confidence, they have learned new skills in a safe, protective environment and achieved a sense of normality. We must continue to nurture their talents and prospects for a brighter future,” says Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh.
Over 2,000 teachers will benefit from professional development programmes through the multi-year ECW grant to ensure quality education that can sustain and save lives, providing safe learning environments, psychosocial support for children and youth. In particular, the programme will focus on training female teachers and meeting the specific needs of girls and boys and of children and adolescents with disabilities. This includes measures to prevent and address gender-based violence.
In host communities, emphasis will be placed on strengthening education systems to improve quality in public schools. Cox’s Bazar has one of the highest rates in the country of primary and secondary age children out of school. The ECW grant will invest in strengthening access to education, retention of students and increasing performance levels.
“ECW’s support will enable us to enhance the quality of the education delivered. We will train more teachers with an improved syllabus and learning materials. We can expand the network of our reach to close the gap on the Rohingya children and youth we are currently unable to reach in the refugee camps,” highlights Beatrice Kaldun, UNESCO Representative in Bangladesh.
At the onset of the refugee crisis, ECW donated US$3 million to establish emergency education services in the Rohingya camps. This US$12 million contribution builds on the earlier support and aligns with a broader framework of support for education facilitated by ECW. The estimated additional cost to deliver this education program in 2019 is almost US$60 million. ECW is calling upon other donors and partners to step up to the plate and provide further financing to fill the gap.
“This funding builds on the first emergency investment made by Education Cannot Wait (ECW) during the initial months of the Rohingya arrivals in 2017. We will not give up on these children and youth now, as they start to recover from the painful experiences in the recent past. On the contrary, now is the time to sustain and expand their access to education, which also means to continue providing a healing and protective environment,” says Yasmine Sherif, Director of ECW.
UNICEF Bangladesh, Jean-Jacques Simon. Email: jsimon(at)unicef.org Tel: +8801713 043478
UNHCR Bangladesh, Firas Al-Khateeb. Email: Khateeb(at)unhcr.org Tel: +880 188 593 4309
UNESCO Bangladesh, Sun Lei. Email: l.sun(at)unesco.org Tel: +880 1708 455077
ECW, Anouk Desgroseilliers, Email: adesgroseilliers(at)educationcannotwait.org Tel: +1 917 640 6820