Cluster-Based Learning Centres for Rohingya

UNICEF joins hands with Friendship for children’s essential lessons in a time of crisis

Class in session at a Cluster-Based Learning Centre

The Rohingya influx of 2017 had over 700,000 people flee into Bangladesh in extreme crisis. Having met their immediate needs, it was soon essential to provide an education for the children as well. Due to 12 years of experience in providing quality education to remote, inaccessible areas, Friendship was ready to start immediately. With support from UNICEF, Friendship started to build and operate 100 eco-friendly learning centres which will ensure access to education for 8,000 people meeting Friendship’s proven standard through the active engagement of both Rohingya and the host community.

The scores of children who had come in with guardians, and in many cases themselves after their families had been killed; have never been to school. Therefore, it was necessary to give these children a preliminary education, so that when they are able to get back to their normal life, they are ready to start their formal education. Currently, Friendship, in partnership with UNICEF has planned 100 learning centres at 25 sites, that will see to the needs of 8,000 children and 14,500 parents and community members. About half of these learning centres are already in operation and the rest are under construction.

Students play outside a Cluster-Based Learning Centre

The project aims to do three things. First of all, providing equitable learning opportunities to the crisis affected children, as well as those of the host communities and youth. Secondly, to ensure the quality of their education, the teaching method is aligned with Friendship’s extant school standards as well as teaching-related professional development opportunities are provided. They are also taught Friendship Code of Ethics, as well as the Clean School Clean Home program that teaches essential water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices for both school and home. Finally, all this will be done including the Rohingya and host communities’ participation and feedback, incorporating their needs and concerns, as well as involving them in school management.

A curious student at a Cluster-Based Learning Centre

“They are very quick learners,” says Md. Faridul Alam from Friendship who teaches English, “I get them to speak to each other in English so that they are comfortable with it”.

Similarly, Niloufer who teaches mathematics uses methodologies that make it easiest to digest information; “we use visual or colour-based systems as they are universal and cross the language barrier more easily. We do teach them in the Rohingya language though, so as to make it as easy as possible for them. They are young, but they are quick learners.”

The learning centres are also architecturally designed keeping in mind both the human aspect as well as the environment. Made of organic, recyclable material like bamboo, they are designed to be open, well ventilated and lit so as to be a welcoming, soothing environment for the children to take their lessons.

In addition to the extant Child-Friendly Spaces, these Cluster-Based Learning Centres will be providing the oft-ignored basic human right to an education to those who are perhaps the most affected by the crisis; the children. Being as young as they are, what they do today will define their entire lives for the future. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that we as citizens of the world, make sure they can spend those lives with dignity and hope. You can help us in these efforts and support these unfortunate children by donating at the link below.

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