DHAKA: Bangladesh has closed the largest private school for Rohingya refugees in the south-eastern part of the country, officials say.
The school for refugees was founded by Mohib Ullah, a prominent Rohingya leader who was shot down last September.
Bangladesh has sheltered some 850,000 Rohingya refugees from neighboring Myanmar since a 2017 military strike by the United States this month. designated as “genocide”.
Since December, the Bangladeshi authorities have closed schools founded by the Rohingya, and last weekend they closed the Kayaphuri School.
“One cannot simply open and operate a school without adequate permission. This is unacceptable,” a senior Bangladesh government official said on condition of anonymity.
The school was founded by Mohib Ullah, a prominent Rohingya community leader who has shot dead in September, accused by an armed group of Rohingya accused of killing dissidents in the camps.
The private school, funded by teachers and well-off refugee families, has taught about 600 older students in the same program as taught in Myanmar, with the hope that one day the students will back home.
Mohammad Mosharraf, 19, said he was in the middle of his final exams when schools were closed, elite armed police took away the only computer – as well as benches and whiteboards.
“I want to be a doctor,” he told western media.
UNICEF runs schools in the camps but they provide education for children aged 4 to 14, leaving older students to attend private schools or madrassas (religious schools) in the settlements.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) last week said Bangladesh threatened to confiscate refugee identity documents and force them to move to a remote island if they violate the ban on refugee-led schools.
Bill Van Esveld from HRW said: “First the government blocked meaningful education for Rohingya children, then closed the schools the Rohingya set up for themselves, and now they threaten to expel the teachers. staff and students to a prison-like island,” said Bill Van Esveld from HRW.
A second Bangladeshi government official called the claim “nonsense” and said that any transfer to Bhasan Char island was voluntary.
“They always see problems in our work. Can anyone just build a school anywhere and start charging students? The official said Monday.
Community leader Shamsul Alam said the closure of private schools and madrassas would have “dangerous effects”.
“If they cannot attend school, they will engage in bad activities, alluding to the rampant drug trade and other crimes that abound in the camps,” he said.
Nur Kashem, a sixth-grader, said he didn’t want to “randomly walk around the streets of the camp”.
“One day I want to go back home (to Myanmar) with my parents and become a teacher there,” he said.
Nur Khan Liton, former secretary-general of Ain O Salish Kendra, Bangladesh’s largest human rights group, said that education is a “fundamental human right”.
“When they return to their homeland, the Rohingya will not find any good jobs. It will aggravate their poverty. They will remain a backward community,” said Liton.