Non-government organisations (NGOs) are building environment-friendly and colourful learning centres for Rohingya children at the 34 refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. The Rohingya influx has led to the destruction of 6,000 acres of reserve forests. Many hills have been made barren in the area.
The green belt in Cox’s Bazar has been destroyed. So, instead of using metal and plastic, the NGOs are building colourful learning centres with bamboo for Rohingya kids to teach them the importance of saving nature and the environment.
The special design, infrastructure and friendly environment of these learning centres are helping the kids to overcome their trauma, say the NGOs. Friendship, an NGO and also one of the partners of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) working for the education of Rohingya children, is building two-storied bamboo learning centres in the refugee camps.
The well-decorated and eye-catching bamboo learning centres have about 800 square feet (SFT) area on each floor. Each room can easily accommodate about 40–50 students. Runa Khan, founder and executive director of Friendship, told The Independent: “Bangladesh is a small country with a huge population density. Owing to the Rohingya influx, the greenbelt in Cox’s Bazar has been destroyed. To save the environment, we are not using plastic to build any structure. Rather, we are using perishable items like bamboos. These bamboo structures are attractive and environment-friendly.” She said these centres are also cost-effective, durable, and attractive for the kids.
Vhlamong Marma, field engineer of Friendship, said: “To build a two-storied centre, about 2,500 bamboos are needed. For one-storied centres, about 1,000 bamboos are required. These special bamboos are brought from Rangpur district. Their thickness makes them last for up to five years.”
According to UNICEF, their 18 partners in 2,500 such centres are givingRohingya children basic lessons in English, maths and Burmese. These centres have been designed so colourfully to help these children overcome their trauma.
In Cox’s Bazar Rohingya camps, there are about one million refugees. Around 55 per cent of them children who have survived displacement, violence, trauma and, at times, rape. “The round shape of the stairs are the main attractions for the students. They are also toys for them to play with,” said Faridul Alam, a learning centre facilitator.
‘We tell them inspirational stories to help them overcome their trauma,” he added. When he asked a student, Runa Akhter, 10, to make a sentence using ‘OO’ on the board, Runa wrote: “Moon shines in the sky.” He said it was a ray of hope as the kid is experiencing life positively, neutralising herviolent experience in the Rakhine State of Myanmar. Runa left Myanmar with her parents in 2017, while her grandfather was killed by the Myanmar army.
Now, Runa, her elder brother Faisal, 12, and younger sister Ayat Ara, 5, are studying at the Friendship-run learning centre at Kutuplaong Camp extension No-7. Faridul Alam said at the time they were admitted to the LC, they were in a state of shock. Now, much of that has healed.
Runa said they want to return in their homeland and go to school like they did before.