Hopes abound as Myanmar curriculum reaches Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh

Hopes abound as Myanmar curriculum reaches Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh
Some Rohingya children living in refugee camps in Cox's Bazar have started their Myanmar education, in a government and UN-backed program that aims to prepare them for future return to their home country. (Photo courtesy: Brac)
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Updated 09 May 2022

Hopes abound as Myanmar curriculum reaches Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh

Hopes abound as Myanmar curriculum reaches Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh
  • Around 400,000 children are among over 1 million Rohingya Muslims in Cox’s Bazar
  • Myanmar curriculum aims at preparing Rohingya children for future return to home country

DHAKA: Rohingya children living in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar are progressing with their Myanmar education, with the arrival of new textbooks setting a government and UN-backed program on course to prepare the hundreds of thousands of children for a future return to their home country.

Around 400,000 school-aged children are among more than 1 million Rohingya Muslims living in the fishing port in southeastern Bangladesh who had sought refuge in the neighboring country after fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar.

The refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar are now host to 3,400 informal learning centers run by UN agencies and aid partners, which provide basic education to over 300,000 students.

Bangladeshi authorities and the UN launched the Myanmar Curriculum Pilot project last November, a program aimed at preparing Rohingya children for a future return to their country. It was stalled for one year and a half due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The MCP was launched in November 2021. UNICEF aims to scale up in phases so that by 2023, all school-aged children are taught through the Myanmar curriculum,” Moyukh Mahtab, UNICEF spokesperson based in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, told Arab News.

The arrival of new textbooks this week marked the beginning of the formal education portion of the project, with more detailed lessons now becoming part of their routine after previously receiving only basic education and general knowledge. With the pilot project, UNICEF hopes to enroll at least 10,000 children by the end of this month.

“Under the MCP, Rohingya refugee children are taught English, mathematics, sciences and social studies, including history and geography,” Mahtab said.

Khan Mohammed Ferdous, an education sector lead of UN aid partner Brac at Cox’s Bazar, said the students go to classes six days a week and spend at least three hours daily there.

“Common placement tests were conducted to find the competency of the students, and based on this the students were enrolled from grade six to nine. Five teachers will be there in each of the learning centers to teach all the subjects,” Ferdous told Arab News.

The Myanmar curriculum, in which lessons are taught in English and the official Myanmar language, Burmese, has brought hope to the Rohingya children in Cox’s Bazar.

“Now, I can continue my study just like in my homeland. After returning home, I would be able to communicate with the people in my community,” sixth grader Hafsa Akter, who dreams of becoming a doctor, told Arab News.

“If we receive a standard education, it will help us in pursuing a good career. I want to be a politician after completing my education because, with this profession, I would be able to change the fate of our community,” seventh grader Moung Soe Myint told Arab News.

“Now I can dream of a better future.”

Nur Khan, a prominent human rights activist in Bangladesh, said authorities in the country should partner with UN officials to engage their Myanmar counterparts in discussions and ensure refugee children can also receive certification for their studies that are acknowledged in Myanmar.

“And the discussion should also include and ensure a dignified and voluntary repatriation of the refugees,” he told Arab News.


Afghan women demand education and work at Kabul protest

Afghan women demand education and work at Kabul protest
Updated 14 sec ago

Afghan women demand education and work at Kabul protest

Afghan women demand education and work at Kabul protest
  • Since seizing power in August, the Taliban have rolled back the marginal gains made by women during the two decades of US intervention in Afghanistan
KABUL: About two dozen Afghan women chanting “bread, work, freedom” protested in the capital on Sunday against the Taliban’s harsh restrictions on their rights.
Since seizing power in August, the Taliban have rolled back the marginal gains made by women during the two decades of US intervention in Afghanistan.
“Education is my right! Reopen schools!” chanted the protesters, many of them wearing face-covering veils, as they gathered in front of the ministry of education.
Demonstrators marched for a few hundred meters before ending the rally as authorities deployed Taliban fighters in plain clothes, an AFP correspondent reported.
“We wanted to read out a declaration but the Taliban didn’t allow it,” said protester Zholia Parsi.
“They took the mobile phones of some girls and also prevented us from taking photos or videos of our protest.”
After seizing power, the Taliban had promised a softer version of the harsh Islamist rule that characterized their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001.
But many restrictions have already been imposed.
Tens of thousands of girls have been shut out of secondary schools, while women have been barred from returning to many government jobs.
Women have also been banned from traveling alone and can only visit public gardens and parks in the capital on days separate from men.
This month, the country’s supreme leader and Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada said women should generally stay at home.
They were ordered to conceal themselves completely, including their faces, should they need to go out in public.
The decree, which triggered international outrage, carried echoes of the Taliban’s first reign, when they made the all-covering burqa mandatory for women.
The Taliban have also banned protests calling for women’s rights and dismissed calls by the United Nations to reverse their restrictions.
Some Afghan women initially pushed back against the curbs, holding small protests.
But the Taliban soon rounded up the ringleaders, holding them incommunicado while denying they had been detained.

Flight with 22 people on board missing in Nepal: airline

Flight with 22 people on board missing in Nepal: airline
Updated 29 May 2022

Flight with 22 people on board missing in Nepal: airline

Flight with 22 people on board missing in Nepal: airline

KATHMANDU: A small airplane with 22 people on board flying on a popular tourist route was missing in Nepal’s mountains on Sunday, an official said.
The plane, which was on a 15-minute scheduled flight to the mountain town of Jomsom, lost contact with the airport tower shortly after takeoff.
Police official Ramesh Thapa said there was no information on the Twin Otter aircraft and a search was underway.
It has been raining in the area for the past few days but flights have been operating normally. Planes on that route fly between mountains before landing in a valley.
It is a popular route with foreign hikers who trek on the mountain trails and also with Indian and Nepalese pilgrims who visit the revered Muktinath temple.


25 missing after cargo boat sinks in Indonesia

25 missing after cargo boat sinks in Indonesia
Updated 29 May 2022

25 missing after cargo boat sinks in Indonesia

25 missing after cargo boat sinks in Indonesia
  • A total of 42 people were on the boat when it sank in bad weather on Thursday morning
  • Ferry tragedies are common in Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands

MAKASSAR, Indonesia: Rescuers in Indonesia were searching for 25 people who were missing after a cargo boat sank in the Makassar Strait in South Sulawesi province, officials said Sunday.
A total of 42 people were on the boat when it sank in bad weather on Thursday morning while traveling from a seaport in Makassar to Kalmas Island in Pangkep Regency, said Djunaidi, the head of the provincial search and rescue agency. Like many Indonesians, Djunaidi goes by only one name.
Seventeen people were later rescued, including some by two tugboats that were at sea at the time of the incident.
Djunaidi said the search and rescue agency received new information about the location of the sunken boat on Saturday and dispatched crews to the area. Two motor boats and a search and rescue boat, along with local fishing boats and Indonesia air force helicopters, are involved in the search for the missing passengers.
The sunken vessel was initially said to be a passenger ferry, but Djunaidi later clarified that it was a cargo boat carrying construction materials. Thirty-six passengers had asked for a ride on the boat and there were six crew members.
Ferry tragedies are common in Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, where ferries are often used as transport and safety regulations can lapse.
In 2018, an overcrowded ferry with about 200 people on board sank in a deep volcanic crater lake in North Sumatra province, killing 167 people.
In one of the country’s worst recorded disasters, an overcrowded passenger ship sank in February 1999 with 332 people aboard. There were only 20 survivors.


Pacific ‘very positive’ on Australian re-engagement: PM

Pacific ‘very positive’ on Australian re-engagement: PM
Updated 29 May 2022

Pacific ‘very positive’ on Australian re-engagement: PM

Pacific ‘very positive’ on Australian re-engagement: PM
  • Anthony Albanese: Australia’s previous government had ‘dropped the ball’ on the Pacific, both in terms of aid and also ‘a non-engagement on values’

SYDNEY: South Pacific nations have been “very positive” about Canberra’s “re-engagement,” Australia’s new prime minister has said, as China undertakes a region-wide diplomatic offensive that is raising concerns among Western powers.
The comments from Anthony Albanese — aired Sunday in an interview with Sky News — came as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was visiting Fiji for closely watched meetings with the island nation’s leaders and others from across the region.
Wang, who began his South Pacific tour Thursday in the Solomon Islands, is expected to discuss a wide-ranging draft agreement and five-year plan that would dramatically expand security and economic cooperation with South Pacific nations.
But Albanese said Australia’s own renewed diplomatic push had been well-received.
“The response has been very positive,” Albanese said when asked about Pacific leaders’ reaction to recent efforts, including a visit to Fiji last week by new Foreign Minister Penny Wong.
The prime minister said Australia’s previous government had “dropped the ball” on the Pacific, both in terms of aid and also “a non-engagement on values.”
“For our Pacific Island neighbors, the issue of climate change is an absolute national security issue,” Albanese said.
In addition to increased action on the environment, he also touted a boost in aid and a plan to set up a defense training school in the Pacific.
During Australia’s recent election campaign, Albanese’s center-left Labor party said the school would involve forces from Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Timor-Leste, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang is expected to remain until at least Tuesday in Fiji’s capital, where he is to host a meeting with foreign ministers from across the Pacific.
The draft agreement and a five-year plan leaked ahead of that meeting, both obtained by AFP, would give China a larger security footprint in the region.
Australian Foreign Minister Wong warned Pacific leaders about the deal last week during her visit to Fiji.
“We have expressed our concerns publicly about the security agreement,” she said.
Beijing last month signed a wide-ranging pact with the Solomon Islands that Western governments feared could give China a military foothold in the region.


Shanghai takes further steps toward reopening, Beijing eases COVID-19 curbs

Shanghai takes further steps toward reopening, Beijing eases COVID-19 curbs
Updated 29 May 2022

Shanghai takes further steps toward reopening, Beijing eases COVID-19 curbs

Shanghai takes further steps toward reopening, Beijing eases COVID-19 curbs
  • The Chinese commercial hub of 25 million aims to essentially end from Wednesday prolonged lockdow

SHANGHAI/BEIJING: Shanghai announced on Sunday further steps toward returning to more normal life and lifting a two-month COVID-19 lockdown this week, while Beijing reopened parts of its public transport, some malls, gyms and other venues as infections stabilized.
The Chinese commercial hub of 25 million aims to essentially end from Wednesday a lockdown that has severely damaged the economy and seen many Shanghai residents lose income, struggle to source food and to cope mentally with prolonged isolation.
The painful coronavirus curbs in major Chinese cities run counter to trends seen in the rest of the world, which has largely moved toward co-existing with the virus even as infections spread.
Shanghai, China’s most populous city, will ease testing requirements from Wednesday for people who want to enter public areas, said city government spokeswoman Yin Xin, adding these tweaks should encourage work resumption.
“The current epidemic situation in the city continues to stabilize and improve,” Yin said, adding Shanghai’s strategy was now “pivoting toward normalized prevention and control.”
People entering public venues or taking public transport will need to show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours, versus 48 hours previously.
Bus services within the Pudong New Area, home to Shanghai’s largest airport and the main financial district, will fully resume by Monday, officials said.
Plaza 66, an upscale mall in central Shanghai that hosts Louis Vuitton and other luxury brands, reopened on Sunday.
Authorities have been slowly relaxing curbs, with a focus on resuming manufacturing.
More people have been allowed to leave their flats, and more businesses permitted to reopen, though many residents remain largely confined to their housing compounds, and most shops limited to deliveries.
The authorities approved 240 financial institutions in the city for reopening from Wednesday, state-run Shanghai Securities News reported on Sunday, adding to a list of 864 firms released earlier this month. That is out of Shanghai’s roughly 1,700 financial firms.
The newspaper said on Saturday that the more than 10,000 bankers and traders who have been living and working in their offices since the start of lockdown were gradually returning home.
Shanghai has already allowed key manufacturers in the auto industry, life sciences, chemicals and semiconductors to resume production since late April.
In the capital Beijing, libraries, museums, theaters and gyms were allowed to reopen on Sunday, with limits on numbers of people, in districts that have seen no community COVID-19 cases for seven consecutive days.
The districts of Fangshan and Shunyi will end work-from-home rules, while public transport will largely resume in the two districts as well as in Chaoyang, the city’s largest. Still, restaurant dining remains banned city-wide.
Shanghai reported just over 100 daily COVID-19 cases on Sunday, while Beijing recorded 21, both mirroring a nationwide downtrend.