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Cox's Bazar Education Sector, Bangladesh


Education Snapshot


Comprising over 50% of the refugee and host communities, an estimated 625,000 children and youth (ages 3-24) lack access to learning opportunities. Refugees are not permitted to enroll in formal education facilities and they are denied certification even where they are allowed informal access to education. In particular, recently arrived refugees lack access to safe and protective learning facilities in new campsites and makeshift settlement areas. This gap is partly due to limited space in these areas as well as the time needed to set up education activities. 

Cox’s Bazar is among the lowest performing Districts in the country with regards to education access, retention and achievement. The dropout rate for Cox’s Bazar is 45% for boys and 30% for girls ; both Rohingya and Bangladeshi children mention low levels of family income as a key reason for dropping out to find work. Urgent financial needs have caused families to deprioritize education.

Certain categories of children face particular barriers to education, including child laborers, children with disabilities, as well as those in households headed by women and/ or children. Also, within both refugee and host communities, girls face additional sociocultural barriers combined with safety concerns and supply-related issues such as a lack of trained female teachers or gender-segregated latrines.

At present, young people are underserved by outreach efforts although 20% of the total refugee and host community populations are youth between the ages of 15 to 24. Addressing their needs is critical in light of the risks that the fluid and unsettled life in camps and settlements pose for young women and men. Such risks include trafficking, drug abuse, early marriage, as well as hazardous or exploitative work. Education services in emergencies therefore also need to focus on increasing the resilience and self-reliance of refugee youth - not just children. 

Providing quality Education in Emergencies (EiE) interventions is also a challenge due to the lack of an approved curriculum for Rohingya children. This challenge is complicated by the sensitivity of issues such as the language of instruction. Retaining qualified teachers is also difficult, as is providing sufficient supportive supervision. Both teachers in host communities and learning facilitators in the refugee camps reported their urgent need for further training in pedagogy, as regards to particular academic subjects as well as general life skills. Harmonized approaches, across all partners, must be monitored to ensure their effectiveness.


The Sector’s priority is to meet the needs of 540,000 children and youth (50% girls) aged 3-24 years, 9,000 teachers and 50,000 community members, through a two-phase approach. This approach will address the educational needs of refugees and help strengthen the host community’s system. As children and youth constitute most of the recent arrivals, the first phase will focus on expanding equitable access to learning opportunities.

The response will be further strengthened by standardizing the Education in Emergencies response and providing psychosocial support for the newly arrived refugee children in coordination with the Child Protection Sub-Sector. The second phase aims to improve the quality of education by developing teaching and learning strategies that are tailored to the varying needs of the Rohingyas and host communities, as well as promoting solutions through advocacy and cooperation with education authorities. Through Community Education Committees and community-based student retention initiatives, community members will help oversee student enrollment, retention and attendance, as well as ensure parental engagement in education.

Learning opportunities and facilities from the first phase of the response need to be scaled up to enable more Rohingya children and youth, particularly the newly arrived, to claim their rights to education. With an expansion in the numbers of children and adolescents aged 3 to 14 who will attend informal learning centres, there will be a need to expand service delivery modalities and networks. In addition, inter-sectoral collaboration will also be strengthened to respond to congestion and land availability problems. Strategies such as using Learning Centres as multifunctional spaces and integrating learning in other children’s facilities will be explored.

Flexible learning models as well as quality interventions for effective learning and teaching will be a key strategy going forward. Innovative learning approaches and safe and flexible education delivery modalities will be explored to ensure equity in access, including by meeting the learning needs of vulnerable groups, especially girls, as well as child labourers, children with disabilities and child-headed households. At the same time, improvements will be made in the recruitment and retention of male and female local and Rohingya teachers and learning facilitators through supportive supervision and the provision of professional development opportunities in pedagogy, psychosocial services, subject-based instruction, and life skills instruction. In addition to learning, co-curricular activites including sports, recreational, and life skills activities will be offered. These complementary interventions will focus on developing self-confidence along with community and individual capacities to promote inter- and intrasocial cohesion and to build resilience within refugee and host communities.

As more than 52% of newly arrived refugee children and youth are girls, and considering the high drop-out rate for host community girls, improvements in gender mainstreaming and targeted interventions are needed to ensure that adolescent girls are not excluded from education assistance in both refugee and host communities. This includes creating safe environment, ensuring separate spaces for adolescent girls, recruiting female teachers, linking to cash based interventions and supporting Menstrual Hygiene Management interventions.

The dedicated education programming for Rohingya refugee adolescents and youth aged 15 to 24 years will focus on English and Burmese language, math and science including enhancing capacity of the adolescents and youth to be resilient to protect themselves from any harmful practices that affect their life, society, environment and host communities and to prepare them for their future. Program for host community adolescents and youth will particularly focus on education for out of school adolescents, life and livelihood skills that bringing them back to the learning ladder and link them with jobs.

The medium of instruction of education program for Rohingya of the entire age group (3-24 years) would be English and Myanmar as directed by the NTF. However, local dialect as used by Rohingya could be used by the refugee teachers to bring proper understanding in teaching learning process.

Education should be relevant and culturally appropriate for refugee children and use a standard and quality approach.The basis of educational support to the Rohingyas will be defined through an agreed learning framework which sets out the competencies to be met, comprising of learning for children living in makeshift settlements. The process of developing it will be participatory and take into consideration the views of the Government of Bangladesh and refugees.Continous engagement with the Government of Bangladesh is critical to expand the humanitarian space for learning,and achieve greater policy clarity in line with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which holds state parties responsible for educating children in their jurisdication regardless of their immigration status.