* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.
We as a people must look to protect our very existence, and ensure we survive to the next generation
For decades now, I have watched my people suffer persecution, harassment
With many aid agencies and international NGOs now on the ground in Myanmar and Bangladesh, the scale of this crisis is coming to light. Thousands of people, including hundreds of non-Muslims, died between 2012 violence and 2017. As of today, there are hundreds of thousands of Rohingya living in refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Whilst the regional powers debate some form of
As a result of the refugee crisis, hundreds of thousands of the Rohingya children remain at risk. This is an entire generation of this our people, and unless they are returned to some kind of normality, and have access to basic schooling and education, I fear they will become a lost generation.
In 2018, the International Rescue Committee estimates that more than 500,000 Rohingya refugee children will go without any form of schooling or formal education. This is largely due to restrictions on their movement, poverty, and the lack of schools in Rakhine State.
For children everywhere, school is about much more than just learning. It provides a form of routine and a sense of normality, as well as discipline. Many of these children have been through incredibly traumatic experiences, and school presents a brief respite and a way to cope.
It is also the place where young people make friends, play, and remember what it's like to be a child. Today, 50 percent of Rohingya refugees are children. If they are ever able to return to their homes, it is vital that they maintain a sense of community.
More urgently, education is also a form of protection from exploitation and abuse, such as child
Whilst the refugee crisis has worsened this issue, it is far from new. For decades now, Rohingya children have struggled for access to basic education, which has limited their employability as they grew into adults. Over eighty percent of our community is illiterate. For the most part, young Rohingya adults are seen by non-Muslims in Myanmar as unskilled and unemployable. The perception of our people as uneducated only worsens tensions within Myanmar and reinforces the view that our community is a burden on the country.
This is a lesser-talked about
Whilst there are now several charities and NGOs working in our refugee camps to set up improvised schools, education generally receives less than two percent of foreign aid funding. The schools that are being set up are very basic and are only aimed at certain ages. We need qualified teachers and basic facilities in our communities and are calling for greater levels of government aid and funding to make this happen.
I will not give up hope, and I will continue to work alongside aid agencies and governments to ensure our children, and our people, have a future.
Kyaw Hla Aung is one of three humanitarians to be