Education Top Priority for Rohingya Refugees in India

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A Rohingya community leader collects details at a settlement in Jaipur, in Rajasthan. The group, among the estimated 40,000 Rohingya who live in India, have recently been asked to submit personal details they fear will be used to deport them back to Myanmar.

Scattered in different parts of the country, these Rohingyas are trying to live like normal human beings by gradually becoming a part of the mainstream society and activities

Clarion India | Mohd Aasif

NEW DELHI – The word ‘refugee’–a person who has been forced to leave his/her country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster—tugs at the heart-strings of any normal human being. And those who have their hearts in the right place lend a helping hand to these hapless refugees to ease their circumstantial crisis.

However, it also brings our biases to the fore. In India, the word ‘refugee’ over time has been attached with ‘Rohingya’– persecuted Muslim minority community in Myanmar.

Thousands of Rohingya families have fled their homeland to save their lives and taken shelter in India. Scattered in different parts of the country, these Rohingyas are trying to live like normal human beings by gradually becoming a part of the mainstream society and activities.

Collaborating with local Non-Government Organisations, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) is creating opportunities for the refugees’ survival.

On the outskirts of the National Capital Region, hundreds of families are forced to live in slums. Struggling for their basic needs, young Rohingyas are working towards sustainability and a dignified life. Jauhar Ali, a Rohingya refugee and student of international law, says that refugees are no different from other human beings; they are the same. Jauhar is a regular university student but nowadays he takes online classes.

Though food is a necessity for survival, Jauhar says that donating biscuits to the refugee kids at the camp will only make them ‘beggars’. “We are needy, but not beggars. Donating food is not a permanent solution. We want sustainability in life”, he added.

Emphasizing on the role of education in civil life, Jauhar says, “Only education can bring this sustainability in the lives of refugees or displaced people. People willing to help can sponsor education of a refugee Kid. It is better than giving biscuits or food packets.”

Mohd Islam, manager at the Social Welfare Department of the Human Welfare Foundation, works for the benefit of the displaced people or refugees, said that in collaboration with UNHRC, their organisation had been working towards funding the education and food for Rohingya students.

“We work towards fulfilling the basic needs of the displaced people without any religious bias. Rohingya refugees are among the beneficiaries. Community leaders remain in touch with the Foundation”, said Mohd Islam.

Most of the students, who fled their homeland with families, have missed education. The change in language and medium of instruction play a vital role. The community leaders, in order to fulfill the gap, help students in enrolling them in secondary classes of National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). Several kids born in India were admitted to neighbouring government schools.

“Among students, we have six university going students, 30 are pursuing their education from NIOS and some 300 students are going to government schools”, Jauhar told Clarion India.

Last year, Jami Millia Islamia refused to give admission to a Rohingya girl. However, she secured admission in a Bachelor Degree course at University of Delhi. “Because of lack of employment opportunities in Myanmar for Rohingyas and unsafe environment for women, the girls’ education is deeply hurt”, said Ali.

In order to ease the process, the Rohingya Literacy Mission has talked to several education ministers of states and other authorities.

Rohingyas have been a persecuted community in their country. Fleeing to a neighbouring country is the only way to stay alive. Lately, a hate campaign against Rohingyas was peddled on social media on the basis of fake news.

Last week, three restaurants were trolled on social media for distributing food packets to Rohingyas.

Mohd Islam told Clarion India that the hate campaign on social media had no relation with the sentiments on ground. “We never faced challenges from any government authority or institutions for just providing basic amenities”, he added.

As response to the work done towards the community, the Human Welfare Foundation finds it positive and fruitful. Mohd Islam said, “People among the Rohingya community are not just consumers; rather, they are also giving back to society when needed”.

Citing the incident of Kerala floods, he said, “Rohingyas had collected funds from their people and contributed to the relief fund.”

“A number of young Rohingyas are also donating blood to hospitals regularly”, said Jauhar, talking about the involvement of community people in social activities.

The community makes efforts to save its cultural heritage. The elders are teaching the mother tongue to their progeny through a small school which, however, is now closed due to the coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdown.

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