WesleyMen, and FastPrayGive.org raised $7,000 in contributions through a 2021 Advent appeal and a matching World Wesleyan Hunger Fund grant. Below is an update on the work that was funded.
Cox’s Bazar (Kutupalong) is one of the most destitute and least disaster-resilient districts in Bangladesh, where education outcomes are the lowest in the country. With the arrival of 745,000 Rohingya refugees in 2017, over 1.2 million people in the host community in and around Cox’s Bazar have been adversely affected.
On March 24, 2020, the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) closed all educational facilities in both the host community and Rohingya refugee camps in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Education was subsequently classified as a non-essential activity, which not only resulted in the closure of 6,000 learning facilities, but also severely limited access to all 34 camps for international and national organizations supporting education. Despite the lifting of access restrictions to all other sectors, education has remained characterized as non-essential still, over one year into the pandemic. 325,000 Rohingya children are still out of structured learning, and access for the 8,537 teachers (5,237 Rohingya and 3,300 host community) remains severely constrained. This has compounded the already numerous existing barriers to inclusion of women and girls in educational programming as they have faced increased child labour and child marriage during the pandemic which will likely persist beyond the period of school closures and will negatively impact in female attendance at learning facilities. A subsequent second wave and more restrictive lockdowns occurred in Bangladesh in May 2021, which will further prolong the education facility closures in both the Rohingya refugee camps and host community.
Support the continued learning and improved psychosocial well-being of Rohingya and host community adolescent and youth women and girls during COVID-19. Specific objective: Enhance the curriculum and self-learning resources to ensure the continued learning of 2,150 Rohingya and host community women and girls in Cox’s Bazar (Kutupalong), Bangladesh refugee camp and host community.
Development of Self-Learning Kits for 1,250 Rohingya adolescent women and girls: 1,218 learners received different levels of the Self-Learning Kit to practice literacy, numeracy, PSS, and motor skills whilst at home. The numbers include those who participated in all levels and those who just received the Revised Level 1. The target is slightly lower due to the stringent nationwide COVID-19 lockdown throughout the first three-quarters of the project. The COVID-19 containment measures entailed rigid movement restrictions within the host community and a ban on education actors from implementing activities in the camps. Access to learners and volunteers in the Rohingya camps became a major issue. However, because the major deliverables in this project consisted of the development of curricular materials, our partner DCA, was able to design and develop all modules remotely to ensure that it was accessible regardless of COVID-19.
According to the students, the Self-Learning Kits (SLK) provided supported their ability to continue to learn during and post lockdown. The SLK was designed with the support of host community facilitators but the distribution, delivery, support, and supervision were led by Rohingya volunteer teachers. Because all education actors, whether I/NGOs or UN Agencies, were prohibited from implementing education activities during the protracted lockdown, Rohingya teachers, caregivers, and community members took increasing ownership and direction of the teaching and learning process. The Rohingya volunteer teachers played the leading role in distributing the SLK, monitoring, follow-up, and evaluation. They were trained in SLK, pedagogy, using low-tech devices such as using MP4 players, featured phones, and smartphones. All the ensuing responsibilities and training strengthened the skills and capacity of the Rohingya volunteer teachers, who expressed more confidence in their role as teachers and women leaders in their communities.
Hazera is a 16-year-old Rohingya girl. With her five family members, Hazera fled Myanmar due to the violence and settled in the Kutupalong refugee camp four years ago. They continue to reside in the largest refugee camp in the world. Hazera spent her days helping her mother around the house, but she always had the interest to study and learn. However, she was never allowed to enroll in any school or learning facility because she was not allowed to study in mixed classes with boys.
One day she saw two women talking about the importance of girls’ education with the community people in her block, which is how she learned about these education activities (funded by All We Can and FastPrayGive.org). Hazera spoke to her family about participating because the education sessions are held in women-headed homes or in women-friendly spaces where no males are allowed. Her family agreed, and Hazera enrolled in an education cycle and began to learn how to read, write, and count.
Hazera was enjoying her days learning new things and meeting other women and girls like her. However, many things changed when COVID-19 arrived at the camps. Hazera had to spend most of her days inside her shelter with her family and expressed fear of forgetting what she had already learned. ‘It’s like the COVID-19 pandemic will be here forever,’ she said. ‘I was afraid about forgetting my lessons.’ Hazera said she felt better when she saw the familiar volunteer teachers. There was distance among them but still, Hazera felt happy that they were visiting her and asking about her health and studies. Volunteer teachers then handed her a package of workbooks, colored pencils, pencils, sharpeners, and erasers, and taught her how she can go through and complete the booklet. Hazera expressed that the SLK was very effective for her because the activities like drawing, coloring, and designing pages helped her a lot to deal with her anxiety. She also added that the literacy and numeracy activities were made in simple ways that she could do most of it by herself, but she also felt relieved when her teachers arrived to check on her progress and help her with any problems. The volunteers also informed and shared the time of the program on distance education broadcasted over the radio. She mentioned that DCA’s SLK helped greatly to relieve some of the stress she felt during the uncertain times of COVID-19.
Thank you to all our donors for this opportunity to help students in Bangladesh and with the Rohingya Refugees. Together, we are able to create a greater impact in some of the world’s poorest communities.