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Children on the Edge - Standing in the gap for Rohingya children
A tried, tested and scaled model, now replicated in the largest refugee camp in the world.
When Children on the Edge began working with the Rohingya eight years ago. official UN camps in Bangladesh were at capacity and thousands of refugees were denied official status. They were forced to settle in makeshift border camps with no opportunity for basic services or education for their children.
They supported local people in the makeshift Kutupalong camp to develop an innovative model to provide education for their children, through a low-profile approach. The solution took the form of 45 small classrooms, dispersed throughout the camp, with basic learning materials.
Classrooms were built out of mud either within or alongside existing dwellings. 45 Rohingya refugees from the camps were trained as teachers, through a ‘train the trainer’ system. This has enabled teachers to safely access training and children to learn in their own language and culture, from familiar people in their own community. A standardised government curriculum was augmented to include elements of creativity, play, rights and health.
The project was founded on local partnership and active community participation. Children, parents and the wider community were engaged at all levels and staff worked with parents to increase their understanding of the importance of education. Children were equipped with the skills and knowledge required to cope with their current situation and an uncertain path ahead.
Impact was demonstrated in a final external evaluation identifying how children’s language, literacy and numeracy had improved and was evident in everyday capacities and exam scores. Final monitoring recorded a 97% pass rate on official exams.
Monitoring change indicators showed an increase in signs of confidence and self-esteem, rising from 30% to 90% of students over three years. 99% of students reported high aspirations for the future.
There were already an estimated 400,000 Rohingya in Bangladesh before the brutal, coordinated military campaign of August 2017 forced an additional 700,000 refugees into the border camps. Without support, children are ill-equipped to cope with the daily challenges of living in the camps, unable to process the trauma they have been through, and lacking in preparation for an uncertain future.
Children on the Edge have now replicated the main elements of their original project to cater for 7,500 newly arrived children in the Kutupalong- Balukhali camp, through the establishment of 150 new classrooms. Children will engage with an approved government curriculum to Grade 3, alongside bespoke rights-based, creative activities. Centres here are semi-permanent, to cater for a potential move, and space is negotiated through established community relationships.
Like before, the components of this provision are:
- Quality, child-friendly, rights-based education
- Inclusive and welcoming learning environments, with a trusted adult presence
- Teachers trained from within the refugee and slum communities
- Children’s voices heard through student councils and child led newsletters
- A programme designed, adapted and maintained by local communities
Children on the Edge makes a difference for thousands of marginalised children, who are living on the edge of their societies around the world. Many are without parental care, neglected or persecuted by their own governments, ignored by the international media and missed by large overseas agencies. The long persecuted Rohingya have had relatively little attention from the international community, but in August 2017, co-ordinated military attacks in Myanmar turned the media spotlight onto their plight. Our main concern over the next few years though, is that these children have consistent support, long after the current surge of attention subsides. With official UN camps in Bangladesh at capacity, thousands of Rohingya were denied official refugee status. They were forced to settle in makeshift border camps with no opportunity for basic services or education for their children. Children on the Edge supported local people in the makeshift Kutupalong camp to develop an innovative model to provide education for their children, through a low-profile approach, within one of the makeshift refugee camps. The solution took the form of 45 small classrooms, dispersed throughout the camp, with basic learning materials.Impact
Children, parents and the wider community are engaged at all levels, and staff work with parents to increase their understanding of the importance of education and to encourage them in supporting various aspects of their children’s learning. These children were equipped with the skills and knowledge required to cope with their current situation and an uncertain path ahead. They will be able to begin to process the trauma they have experienced and have brighter opportunities for the future. See our report under the 'posts' section of this page, for the different ways we have created an impact.Scalability
Our original 45 schools in the Kutupalong area have been handed over to UNICEF, while we begin to break ground on constructing 75 Learning Centres in the camps. We will also be maintaining the 22 classrooms we operate in host and enclave migrant communities. The programme will employ and train both Bangladeshi and Rohingya staff. Learning Centres will offer basic education, healthcare, nutritional support, and creative opportunities to 7,500 vulnerable Rohingya refugee children who otherwise will have no access to those services.