More than 400,000 of one million registered Rohingyas sheltered in Bangladesh (including over 738,000 who have come since August 2017) are under-18 school-age children. They are sheltered in eleven camps, located in two upazilas (Ukhia and Teknaf) of Cox's Bazar district, Bangladesh. Some of them accompanied their parents; some only had a single parent, while some were orphans. Since their arrival, about two-thirds of the younger children have received some non-formal education through local and international NGOs. Yet more than 90% of the 117,000 adolescent children, especially girls, have been left out. Equitable access to basic education and skills training in safe spaces within the camps is a human right of the female adolescents. It would raise their capacity for better-paid and more meaningful, income-generating or employment opportunities, thereby benefiting the girls themselves as well as their families, giving them a hope for future. Furthermore, there is evidence that the education of adolescent girls leads to smaller family size and delayed marriage, and contributes to their increased participation in decision-making and achieving more equal control over resources (Canada's Feminist International Assistance Policy, 2017, pp 1-4).
This will be a pilot project. Project outcomes, challenges, lessons, and recommendations will be shared with Rotary International, the Government of Canada, and the wider public to facilitate potential post-project scale-up. The proposed objectives of the project are to provide: 1) a customized and needs based education in the selected camps; and 2) inclusive education and life-skill training to 100 adolescent girls who are otherwise deprived of their right to education. Non-formal Primary Education (NFPE) will be used as the delivery model. It is a UNICEF approved model widely applied in the grassroots educational development context in Bangladesh and 39 countries of the world. NFPE provides initial education instruction and programming to children from marginal households who could not access formal schools due to economic and proper care constraints. The curriculum will be gender responsive: it will be tailored in this project to take into account and meet the specific conditions and needs of the Rohingya adolescent girls in the camps, such as their socially expected isolation from unrelated boys and men; and their frequently early marital and maternal status. For example, babysitting services will be offered to care for the young mothers' children while they attend class. Further, the project will support existing child friendly spaces in selected camps; address and transform harmful behaviours that can have negative consequences for all genders; provide selective skills training; and support already existing welcoming spaces that respond to the specific needs of Rohingya girls (Canada's Feminist International Assistance Policy, Action area 1 (core) and 2, p 19, pp 55-57; Bob Rae, "Tell them we're human": What Canada and the world can do about the Rohingya crisis, April 2018, pp 15-16). The project, therefore, will address Sustainable Development Goals 4 (Quality education), and 5 (Gender equality) and at the same time help Rohingya adolescent children to achieve useful skills whether they live in Bangladesh or ultimately repatriated to Rakhine.
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