Two years into the COVID-19 global pandemic, education has been seriously disrupted leaving children out of learning. The closure of schools and learning centers exacerbated the challenges of girls accessing education as it increased drop out rates for girls who were already at the brink of drop out.
With school re-opening after prolonged closures, girls drop out made global and national headlines—with no exception in Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. As the camps’ learning centers gradually reopened, adolescent girls were notably absent from class, worrying education providers.
Where are the girls?
The issue of low attendance of adolescent girls did not start with the COVID-19 pandemic, though the closure of schools and learning centers did not help the situation.
To better understand the circumstances around the dropout of girls, UNICEF together with the education partners consulted the Rohingya community in search of the reason across camps in 2019.
After intensive door-to-door visits, it was well understood that the community is fighting many battles and accepting Rohingya girls’ right to education is one of them.
The girls were found at home, with 11-year-olds and older, who are merely approaching adolescence phase, shouldering responsibilities to support the household, doing chores and taking care of the family.
With the disruptions in the completion of primary education, many opportunities are being taken away to prepare the girls for the lifelong journey. Little did they know about what they could become if only they could have access to education.
“As I am growing older, my opinion matters less. I must follow what my parents and community say even at the cost of education. Otherwise, I may disrespect them,” expressed Amena, hopeless about her return to school after dropping out in 2019.