The largest private school for refugees was created by Mohib Ullah, a prominent Rohingya leader who was shot dead in September last year.
Bangladesh has closed the largest private school for rohingya refugeesauthorities say, in a fresh blow to the educational prospects of thousands of children trapped in vast camps in the country’s southeast.
Bangladesh has been hosting some 850,000 Rohingya refugees from neighboring Myanmar since a 2017 military offensive that the United States launched this month. designated as “genocide”.
Since December, Bangladeshi authorities have been shutting down schools set up by the Rohingya, and late last week they closed the Kayaphuri school.
“You can’t just open and operate a school without proper permission. This is unacceptable,” a senior Bangladeshi government official said on condition of anonymity.
The school was created by Mohib Ullah, a prominent Rohingya community leader who was gunned down in September, allegedly by a Rohingya armed group accused of murdering opponents in the camps.
The private school, funded by teachers and wealthy refugee families, taught around 600 older students the same curriculum taught in Myanmar, with the hope that the students will one day return home.
Mohammad Mosharraf, 19, said he was in the middle of his final exams when the school closed and armed elite police took the only computer, as well as benches and blackboards.
“I wanted to be a doctor,” he told AFP.
UNICEF runs schools in the camps, but offers education to children aged 4 to 14, letting older students go to private schools or madrasahs (religious schools) in the settlements.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said last week that Bangladesh was threatening to confiscate refugees’ identity documents and force them to relocate them to a remote island if they violate the ban on refugee-run schools.
“First the government blocked meaningful education for Rohingya children, then it closed the schools the Rohingya set up for themselves, and now it is threatening to banish teachers and students to a prison-like island,” said Bill Van Esveld of HRW. .
A second Bangladeshi government official called the statement “nonsensical” and said any transfer to Bhasan Char Island was voluntary.
“They always see problems in our work. Can someone just erect a school anywhere and start charging students for it? It has to be done with the proper documentation,” the official said Monday.
Community leader Shamsul Alam said the closure of private schools and madrasahs would have a “dangerous impact”.
“If they can’t go to school, they will get involved in bad activities,” he said, referring to the rampant drug dealing and other crimes that abound in the camps.
Nur Kashem, a sixth-grader, said he didn’t want to “randomly wander the paths of the camp.”
“I want to return home (to Myanmar) one day with my parents and become a school teacher there,” he said.
Nur Khan Liton, the former general secretary of Ain O Salish Kendra, Bangladesh’s largest human rights group, said education is a “basic human right.”
“When they return to their homeland, the Rohingya people will not get any good jobs. It will make your poverty worse. They will continue to be a backward community,” Liton said.