At a press conference in Dhaka on December 11, 2019, I announce that The Nippon Foundation will donate $2 million to BRAC to scale up its education programs for children of Myanmar refugees in the Cox’s Bazar camp.
The Nippon Foundation has announced it will donate $2 million to BRAC, a non-governmental organization based in Bangladesh, to scale up its education programs at the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp for children of Muslim refugees from Rakhine State in the neighboring Myanmar.
I made the announcement at a press conference at the BRAC center in the capital Dhaka on December 11 during a visit to Bangladesh, along with BRAC Executive Director Asif Saleh.
The money will be used to build 50 two-story prefabricated movable steel structures to be used as learning centers for 8,000 displaced refugee children aged 4 to 14 years from Myanmar, who are taking refuge in Ukhya and Teknaf sub-districts of the Cox's Bazar camp.
Besides, 100 pre-primary learning centers will also be built for the host community’s 3,000 children of 5 to 6 years of age. To select the location of the centers, engagement with parents and the broader local community will be prioritized in a bid to ensure their consent.
I told the press conference that I visited the Cox’s Bazar camp as Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar and Chairman of The Nippon Foundation early this year to personally witness the reality on the ground, adding: “When I was there, I found the situation was much more serious than I thought.”
“I have seen the refugee camp from the Myanmar side and Bangladesh side as well. And as a result, I actually saw, with my own eyes, how difficult the situation is. And under such a difficult situation, the Bangladeshi government is trying to provide humanitarian aid” to the refugees, I said.
BRAC’s Executive Director Saleh said that "55 percent of the people who came from Myanmar are children. So, we are focusing on their education."
Explaining further, I said: "The objective of our initiative is to create education opportunities for the children of Muslim refugees so that they can also learn alongside the host community’s children.” I sincerely hope that the displaced children will be able to continue learning when they return to their homeland.
The Bangladeshi government was quite reluctant to approve construction of buildings at the Cox’s Bazar camp by international organizations and western countries for fear of making the refugee situation there permanent.
But it did go along with our project, which envisages constructing movable steel structures designed for temporary use by refugees and taking care of children of the host community, which has been significantly impacted by the exodus of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Myanmar.
An image of one of the two-story prefabricated movable steel structures to be used as learning centers for 8,000 refugee children from Myanmar.