1.1 Executive Summary
The largest influx of Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh began on August 25th 2017. Nearly 1 million now reside in Cox Bazar district. 0ver 500,000 children in the district are in need of EiE assistance. Approximately 375,000 of them are Rohingya and remain almost solely reliant on international and national NGOs as providers of nonformal education. This assessment was initiated in February 2018 by the Education Sector based in Cox Bazar. It was to be the first in-depth assessment to focus wholly on EiE in during the current influx. It aimed enable better decision making and to from an initial baseline of key indicators including; attendance, enrolment and key barriers. The assessment methodology was chosen to ensure that the results are adequately representative at the Household levelso that it could provide a reliable statistical basis. Data was collected through a structured Household Surveys with parents of school aged children and semi-structured Community Group Discussions with adolescents and teachers. Data was collected from the 12th to 28th February 2018. This was combined with and extensive Secondary Data Review to produce a combined cross-source analysis of all primary and publically available EiE data.
1.3 Key Findings and Recommendations
Attendance and Enrolment
For primary aged children (aged 6-14), 57% of girls and 60% of boys of have attended learning centres since arriving in Bangladesh. Attendance is weaker at ECCD level (aged 3-5) - only 43% of both boys and girls with reported attendance. Only 4% of adolescent (aged 15-18) girls attending compared to 14% of adolescent boys. Given the lack of services on secondary level and vocational training, the assessment was unable to establish what type of education these adolescents were accessing, but it is possible that these are secondary aged children attending primary learning facilities.
Prior to displacement, 50% of girls and 58% of boys aged eight and above reported graduating from at least Grade 1 in Myanmar’s school system and those who had access to education, on average have completed three grades of schooling with 31% of boys and 25% of girls reported having completed Grade 3.
Only 57% of children who attended school in Myanmar have attended a learning centre since arriving.
51% of children who have never previously attended school have started attending a learning facility since arrival.
While many children do not attend a learning facility at all, those who do attend regularly. Over 90% of children who had attended learning facility in the previous week did so for at least 4 days—similar to the reported situation prior to displacement.
Lack of available learning centres was identified as access barrier for children by 20% of parents of all ages and genders. Learning centres are running at capacity and are unable to enrol more primary aged children. For adolescents, lack of overall services is the main barrier.
Distance to learning centres was reported as barrier especially by parents of younger children and then gradually declining with age. 40% of parents for 3-5, 30% for 6-14 and 26% for 15-18. This was linked to challenging terrain—especially during rainy season—as well as dealing with hazards and threats along the way (see below).
Safety threats at learning centres was identified as access barrier particularly by girls, and cited as priority area for improvement. The specific nature of threats remained unidentified by this assessment and requires further analysis. This was more acute for girls than boys at age 6-14 (32% vs 25%) and aged 15-18 (32% vs 18%).
CGD discussions suggested adolescent girls were concerned not having gender-segregated classrooms and learning centres being unsecure from intrusions leading to a degree of shame in attending education. Given the overall lack of services for adolescents, this should be interpreted as the perception of adolescent female respondents on access barriers. Furthermore secondary Data contradicts these findings, repeatedly citing that learning centres are perceived as safe spaces.
CGD data suggest that for adolescent girls, these concerns are exacerbated due to the fact that those learning spaces that do exist are not gender-segregated classrooms, and that spaces are not secure from intrusion by people who should not be able to enter the space, such as men from the immediate community physically entering or observing activities inside learning facilities.
Work at home or outside home was identified as barrier by 20% of parents of primary aged children (6-14). The percentage increases to approximately 50% with parents of adolescents (15-18), while the lack of education possibilities might negatively impact this figure.
Around 40% of parents of adolescent girls and 33% for adolescent boys reported that education was not appropriate for children of their age. This is likely linked to conservative social norms constraining mixing with the opposite sex and restricting movement outside the household after the onset of puberty, as well as the belief that education is of limited use for girls who will grow up to fulfil primarily domestic responsibilities.
Mental health and disability were not mentioned as barriers by the study’s survey, which is in contradiction with secondary data analysis indicating psychosocial trauma linked with displacement being a factor limiting children’s abilities to access education.
Facilities and services
Focus group discussions pointed to lack of WASH facilities to be a key gap, including lack of latrines and safe drinking water. Public latrines were perceived to be dangerous places for children.
Other key gaps relate to overcrowding of classrooms and lack of gender segregated spaces. The vast majority of learning centres currently operate as single classroom units, and whilst gender segregation is predominantly prioritise by adolescents, CGD suggest this begins to be a barrier for girls as young as 10 and 12. The average enrolment established by the assessment was 110 students split across two to three shifts.
Teaching and Learning
Lack of learning materials was reported as a challenge by 31% of parents of children aged 3-5 and 27% of parents of children aged 6-14. The CGDs brought out specifically the lack of teaching materials such as blackboards. Although not directly related to teaching and learning material, lack of weather and culturally-appropriate clothing for children were also brought up as a material need. It should be noted that this is not what is normally interpreted as teaching and learning materials by partners, adding our important contextual nuance to the findings of this and other assessments.
Teachers report that the content of teaching (given no formal curricula has been approved) is often improvised and unstructured, and that they lack the means to adequately distinguish between children of different ability levels. Children report feeling under-stimulated in learning facilities, often covering material they have already studied in Myanmar.
Parents of adolescent children in particular report feeling that “what is taught is not relevant” (34% of parents of girls and 46% of parents of boys). This again is possibly linked that secondary aged children are attending primary learning facilities. 40% of parents of girls aged 15-18 and 47% for boys listed vocational training as a priority area for improvement. This is echoed by adolescent CGD participants.
However, it needs to be noted that provision of vocational training is currently not allowed by the government.
Majority of adolescents when asked what activities that too lace me learning facilities they found most useful, CGDs identified language learning, literacy, and recreational activities. This contrasts with parents, as only one-fifth prioritized these areas for improvement.
The majority first preference for language of instruction is Rohingya (50%), followed by Burmese (15%) and English (15%). For preferred languages to learn, English is the overwhelming priority, reported by 90% of parents, followed by Bengali (62%), Burmese (60%), Rohingya (57% - likely referring to a desire to learn a written form of Rohingya) and Arabic (29%).
Teachers and Other Education Personnel
According to most recent 4Ws data, the average student to teacher ratio across the response is 47:1, split roughly evenly between Rohingya language instructors and Bangladeshi teachers. 60% of Rohingya instructors are reportedly male while the reverse is true for Bangladeshi teachers.
According to CGD and secondary data, recruitment of Rohingya teachers is a major challenge.
Recruitment challenges are due to a small pool of sufficiently educated, Burmese-speaking teachers among the Rohingya population, as well as competition from better-paying work elsewhere in the response.
There are currently no agreed-on sets of standards for teacher training, resulting in uneven levels of training across different partners, as well as a perceived lack of quality control standards.
Out of 12 CGD groups with teachers, four reported receiving four or more trainings, while three reported receiving only basic teacher training. While not statistically representative, it indicates that the quantity and content of trainings offered teachers are not standardised across partners.
For female staff members a lack of adequate WASH facilities and security concerns over remote facilities and/or working late are also posing significant challenges.
Coordination and Community Participation
Humanitarian distributions were listed as a significant cause of disruption to learning centre activities by teachers, who reported that children would regularly leave their learning facility to help parents.
In general, madrassahs are widely respected among the Rohingya population—including children themselves—and seen as a critical part of community religious life where children can feel safe. Parents report being comfortable with madrassah staff providing secular education to children as a possible alternative modality to building more learning centres. Madrassahs are significantly better-attended than learning centres, with close to 80% of children age 6-14 attending since arrival, compared to 60% for learning centres (50% report attending both facilities).
Resultsfrom CGDs paints a more ambivalent picture. A lack of relevant qualifications among madrassah staff was identified as an issue, supported by secondary data from Myanmar suggesting few, if any of the teachers, have completed high school education. Some adolescents felt strongly that madrassahs were religious rather than secular spaces and that this divide should be maintained.
Timetabling clashes with madrassahs are reportedly common. Some teachers in CGDs reported that staff at madrassahs were hostile to learning centres and were pressurizing children not to attend.
Teachers in CGDs called for increased engagement with parents on raising awareness of the importance and value of education of children and to understand the priorities of parents.