By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) - The Bangladeshi government has allowed Rohingya children living in refugee camps to access formal education in a move welcomed by rights activists.
"The government has decided to allow formal education to Rohingya children under Myanmar's curriculum so that they can continue their education in Myanmar if the repatriation process is started in the future," Mahbub Alam Talukder, Bangladesh’s refugee relief and repatriation commissioner, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.
Citing a meeting held earlier this week, he said children up to the age of 14 will get school education and those older than 14 will get skills training.
This has been a hot button issue in the country with many Rohingya students opting for fake documents to get admission to high schools and colleges and the government expelling them.
Nearly half of the 540,000 Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh under the age of 12 are missing out on school, according to a 2019 report by the UN.
Earlier last year, the government banned donor-funded schools inside the refugee camps from imparting formal education to students.
Rights activists have long been campaigning that depriving such a vast group of their fundamental rights could make them vulnerable to radicalization.
"This is a great development and positive move by the Bangladesh government and it will revive hope among Rohingya people,” Mohammed Ahsan, a community leader, told Anadolu Agency.
“They have lost two academic years already and cannot afford to lose any more time outside a classroom,” said Saad Hammadi, South Asia campaigner at Amnesty International.
More than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed to Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million, according to Amnesty International.
Over 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA) titled Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience.
Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.